Temporary bed closure raises fears over future of Lothian’s last field hospital

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Health officials have announced the six beds at Edington Cottage Hospital in North Berwick and staff supporting them will be moved to East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington.

They say the move is intended to ease the pressures caused by the high levels of absence due to illness and self-isolation due to Covid.

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Edington Cottage Hospital in North Berwick Image: Google Maps

It is expected to come into effect over the next two weeks and will be reviewed every three months.

But South Scotland’s Conservative MSP Craig Hoy said: ‘I am deeply concerned that this will be used as an excuse to permanently centralize inpatient services in East Lothian and to effectively shut down the Edington.

“This decision took place without any public consultation and is the thinnest part of the corner that could see services cut from both North Berwick and possibly Belhaven Hospital in Dunbar.

“Patients do best when they are in their own community, which is why local health services are so important.

“With the growing size of East Lothian communities, we need the SNP government to adequately fund localized healthcare and hospital care in the county. “

He said he had written to NHS chief executive Lothian and the Scottish government to express concerns and ask for assurances that work and inpatient admissions will return to Edington in the near future.

South Scotland Labor MSP Martin Whitfield said the NHS had a staffing crisis after ten years of poor planning and underfunding, which drove the Edington decision.

‘My concern is that in December when it is reviewed, unless the government makes big changes to the funding of the NHS, the position will not have changed – and the longer something stays closed, the more these patients stay in other places for a long time and staff are redeployed, the less likely it is to reopen, which would be a tragedy for the neighborhood.

“As the winter season approaches, the beds would normally be full of people coming in, recovering from certain things and hopefully leaving – and it’s no longer available, so families have to travel further. “

He said he understood the reasons for the temporary shutdown. “The challenge is to make sure that the resources and the staff are there so that it can reopen as soon as possible – and that’s what I call it.”

Alison Macdonald, director of the East Lothian Health and Human Services Partnership, said: “While the decision to move the six inpatient beds at Edington Cottage Hospital was very difficult, it was made for ensure patient safety.

“We are approaching what could be one of the most difficult winters on record for the NHS, coupled with the continuing threat posed by the Covid pandemic. This reality is why we need to act now, in a planned way, to strengthen the workforce and ensure that we can maintain patient safety, continue to provide quality care and protect the well-being of our working staff. hard. “

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