Kids’ ward threat

The news that the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital, Livingston is to be downgraded “temporarily” in July to a 12-hour assessment unit is disastrous for the people of West Lothian.

For St John’s, it could be the beginning of the end as an acute emergency hospital since the children’s ward is central to many of its other departments.

So why the decision to downgrade the ward in July? I believe the answer is timing; the election is over.

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West Lothian people no longer have a chance to direct their fire at politicians. Moreover, I think NHS Lothian wants to see if the West Lothian public react badly to this news.

Finally, it wants to determine whether it is possible to transfer sick children to Edinburgh safely. What better time to conduct this experiment than when many children are on holiday?

During July, there will be no children admitted to the ward. Instead, an assessment unit is to be established from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and if the child requires urgent medical attention, he or she will be taken by ambulance to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh.

After 8pm and at weekends, all children will have to endure the journey to the Sick Kids. Can the government really appreciate the misery and difficulty for parents and patients?

Before the election, the then leader of West Lothian Council, Peter Johnston, said: “The children’s ward will not close.”

The hallmark of the SNP’s desperation to win West Lothian was a complete denial of the serious threat to the children’s ward and the rubbishing of anyone who dared to suggest that there was a problem.

Unless the people of West Lothian act now, by the time the holidays are over, the fate of the children’s ward will be sealed.

Jim Warnock

Woodmuir Road

West Calder, West Lothian