NHS Lothian recently announced that it is set to re-open the Royal Victoria Hospital just three months after it was closed.
The decision was taken because of concerns that the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary could not cope with demand for NHS services over the winter.
The announcement has caused considerable concern amongst staff and patient groups. Legitimate questions have been raised about what state the building has been maintained in over the last three months and whether the already stretched workforce will be able to cover the site.
Given the unexpected nature of the announcement, it seems clear that this was not a pre-planned contingency. The whole situation comes across as crisis management and questions have to be asked about the resources available to get NHS Lothian back on an even keel. Moreover the breaking news is that the Paediatric Ward in St John’s Hospital is once again under threat. It has been a long running issue for health service campaigners in West Lothian concerned about the potential downgrading of St John’s. In the summer the ward closed because of a lack of staff.
Health Minister Alex Neil recently described NHS Lothian as being in the Second Division and suggested that under his leadership it would move to the Premier league. If he’s serious it won’t be achieved without sufficient investment in staff capacity.