St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th September 2018.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

The milestones that the board will put in place, which I am happy to share with members, are about the recruitment and training of the advanced nurse practitioners and the two additional consultants, which I outlined in my statement. Their purpose is to ensure that we remain on track and that the training is completed as we anticipate, in order to allow those individuals to join the rota. Of course, joining the rota is about taking steps towards returning to a 24/7 service.

There is an initial timetable on the basis of what I have set out and there will be an additional timetable as a consequence of the advertising exercise that I said would begin in October to recruit for the two consultant posts and the advanced nurse practitioner posts.

I have asked the director general and the chief medical officer to remain in constant touch with the board to ensure that those milestones are being met, take action where there is any slippage on progress towards those milestones and report back to me in January, at which point—as I have said—I will make sure that Parliament and members are informed of what progress has been made.

On ensuring stability, I could not agree more with Mr Briggs. The key here is not simply to bring back a 24/7 service; it is to bring back a sustainable 24/7 service, precisely for the reason that the member indicated, which is not to have a future situation in which we cannot sustain that service and families and children in West Lothian are put in the position that they are currently in, which I agree is not an acceptable one, although it is the safest position at this point.

That sustainability is absolutely critical and that is why, as a consequence of our discussions with the board, it has agreed to that open recruitment exercise, which may result in it overrecruiting according to the strict numbers that it needs to return the service. We have said that it is better that the board does that so that we are absolutely certain of sustainability than it is to be one short, which would mean a further delay while it has to advertise and try to recruit again.