There have been more than 2,000 births at St John's hospital in each of the past five years. The number of births has increased from 2,372 in 2001 to 2,761 in 2005, which is a 16 per cent gain over the five years.
I am sure that the minister recognises that the increasing number of births at St John's hospital reflects not only the work of that excellent local hospital, but the fact that there is a young and growing population in West Lothian and in the parts of Edinburgh that are served by that hospital. Will he assure me that the maternity services that are provided at St John's hospital will continue to be an integral part of national health service maternity services in the Lothians and that St John's hospital will have the appropriate number of consultant staff to maintain its services?
Absolutely. Mr Muldoon will be well aware of the recent appointments of obstetricians and paediatricians, which indicate the continuing important role that St John's will play in providing maternity and child services in Lothian. He may also be aware of the consultation on medical catchment areas in West Lothian and the west of Edinburgh that recently got under way, which has reflected the continuing importance that St John's is likely to have for an even wider population in the years to come.
I declare an interest. I am the mother of one of the many children who have been born at St John's hospital.
Will the minister reassure members that the Executive wants St John's to maintain a full obstetric service in the future? Senior consultants in the Lothians have told me about their concerns about future rotas for junior doctors, particularly in respect of anaesthetics, and the ability to supply full obstetric services at both the Edinburgh royal infirmary and St John's in the future. Will he confirm that in its forward planning strategy, the Executive aims to ensure that both St John's and the ERI can provide full obstetric services in the future?
Absolutely. As I said in reply to Mr Muldoon's question, St John's will continue to play a key role in that field. I hope that Fiona Hyslop will join Bristow Muldoon and ministers in reassuring people in West Lothian and the west of Edinburgh about that. The hospital has an important future in providing those services and a range of other consultant-led services, which will continue to bring benefits to what Bristow Muldoon rightly described as a young and growing population in that part of Scotland.
On international women's day, and on the
I am happy to deal with the questions in that context.
The new services that we are putting in place throughout Scotland for mothers with post-natal depression include new dedicated services in the west and the east of Scotland. In December, I was delighted to open the new unit at St John's for mothers who are suffering from post-natal depression and their babies. That service will be well used. When I opened the unit, I was delighted to hear from users of post-natal depression services in West Lothian, who told me about how much they had influenced the design of the new centre. Similar provision has been put in place elsewhere in Scotland at the regional and local levels. That provision points to the importance that we attach to such services.