Health chiefs who rejected calls for a new £70 million community hospital to provide A&E services in East Lothian are now appealing for ‘community-based’ alternatives after admitting Edinburgh’s flagship hospital can’t cope with demand.
Calls for A&E services to be included at the new hospital in Haddington, which became fully operational last month, were made at a series of public meetings as the hospital construction got under way.
But NHS Lothian ruled it out, saying there was not enough demand.
A report to East Lothian Integration Joint Board next week will ask for support for additional funding for the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s (RIE) ‘Front Door’ services which deal with emergencies and for other Lothian partnerships to step in to help ease the pressure.
The report says emergency department overcrowding has been linked to an increase in death rates and warns the RIE’s emergency department last year dealt with 50 per cent more patients than it was built to accommodate.
Figures in the publication, produced by Rebecca Miller, the Royal Infirmary’s strategic programme manager, reveal that the hospital’s emergency department, was designed to manage 80,000 patients a year but in 2018 saw 119,783.
East Lothian MSP Iain Gray said: “I have long believed that the new hospital in Haddington was a missed opportunity to provide some sort of A&E or at least minor injuries service in the county, to reduce the number of East Lothian residents who have to travel to the infirmary.