Birth of baby Saoirse made me realise just how amazing NHS really is – Angus Robertson

Proud dad Angus Robertson with little Saoirse
Proud dad Angus Robertson with little Saoirse
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The birth of baby Saoirse, which was not straightforward, saw a midwife stay with Angus Robertson’s wife Jennifer for her entire 12-hour shift – and beyond.

Some people go through life and have the good fortune of good health with little or no need for medical assistance. With the exception of childhood sporting injuries that landed me in the Sick Kids and also Western General at Crewe Toll, I have been lucky to be one of those people.

During the last year however, I have had reason to spend quite a lot of time at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France visiting nearest and ­dearest receiving treatment. My ­elderly father has had a couple of health scares and found himself in various wards at the RIE.

If you haven’t been out to the still newish Royal Infirmary it really is quite something. Along the walls of the main entrance mall are timelines which explain the impressive history of the hospital: established as the ­oldest voluntary hospital in Scotland in 1729, it went on to become the ­largest voluntary hospital in the UK. Many people still remember it from its 1879 purpose-built site next to the Meadows, which is now the Quartermile development.

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Since 2003, the hospital has been at Little France, serving not just the city of Edinburgh but patients from across the Lothians. With more than 900 beds it is the site of clinical medicine teaching as well as being a teaching hospital for the University of Edinburgh Medical School, and a large contingent of trainee nursing staff from Napier University, the biggest provider of nursing and midwifery education in the country.

The Royal Infirmary has a wide range of expert medical and surgical services from accident and emergency, acute medicine, cardiology, orthopaedic surgery, renal medicine and dialysis, respiratory medicine, sleep medicine, transplant and vascular surgery. The emergency department alone has had more than 113,000 patient attendances in one year, which is the highest number in Scotland.

In the next few weeks, the services at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children will move into a new £150 million building on the Little France campus, together with the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

The whole hospital campus buzzes like a little city with staff, patients, families and friends coming and going 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The main mall includes shops and a cafe,

In recent days I have had good ­reason to spend time at the Royal Infirmary with the birth of my first child at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, the biggest maternity unit in Scotland with more than 6,000 babies born every year.

Because the birth of healthy baby Saoirse Robertson was not straightforward, my wife Jennifer received a wider range of midwife and medical support than normal. I can’t stress enough how grateful and impressed we were with the professional and caring help which was received, ­especially from midwife Tracy who spent her entire 12-hour shift with Jennifer and I, and then stayed on extra to be with us as wee Saoirse was delivered. She provided hugely appreciated midwifery and emotional support at a difficult time.

It’s mindblowing to think of everybody who was involved directly and indirectly, from the midwives, nurses and doctors to all the ancillary staff. We would like to thank all of them from the bottom of our hearts. They do remarkable jobs and have a huge positive impact on so many lives. Hopefully they know how much the public values them all and supports our national health service.

In years to come the area around the Royal Infirmary, known as the BioQuarter will transform healthcare, bringing benefits to us all. Experts in the clinical, academic and life sciences sector are co-locating, to make Edinburgh a real centre of global excellence. That has to good news for us all.