A family with a sick baby faced a return hospital journey of more than five hours due to a children’s ward closure, MSPs heard.
The SNP’s Angela Constance raised the case of the family from Breich in her constituency of West Lothian at First Minister’s Questions.
She said the family went to St John’s Hospital in Livingston with their sick baby and had a three-hour wait for an ambulance transfer to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children due to the children’s ward at St John’s being closed to inpatients.
The paediatric ward at St John’s has been closed to out-of-hours inpatients since July 2017 due to a shortage of staff.
Ms Constance said: “The baby was discharged at 11pm and the family were then left to walk into the city centre to catch the last bus to Livingston to then get a taxi home to Breich arriving at 1.30am.
“All of course contrary to the commitments made by NHS Lothian to provide transport support to local families.”
She asked the First Minister: “Given that the baby one of is 708 West Lothian children one of to be transferred from St John’s to the Sick Kid’s, how will you and the government ensure that NHS Lothian and, crucially, the Paediatrics Programme Board, do absolutely everything and more to return our much loved and first class children’s ward to a 24/7 service as soon as possible?”
Nicola Sturgeon said: “I can assure Angela Constance that the government will work closely with NHS Lothian to ensure that the ward is reopened as quickly as possible.
“The acting chief executive of NHS Lothian assured [Health Secretary] Jeane Freeman on August 28 that all efforts are being made to recruit medical staff and advanced nurse practitioners to reinstate the inpatient unit.”
She said the current situation is to ensure “patient safety” and said she would ask Ms Freeman to look into the case raised.