This month marks one year since the decision to relocate staff and bed capacity from the Edington Hospital in North Berwick to East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington.
While nobody wanted the hospital’s community ward to close, at the time of the decision there was at least some understanding of why it was imposed. The impact of Covid on the NHS was still a major problem and winter pressures were looming.
However, one year on from the initial disappointment and anger at the closure, the local community is no closer to knowing when the bed capacity will return or what the future will be for the much-loved hospital.
I have worked with colleagues on a cross-party basis to push for answers from the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian. Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson and deputy leader Jackie Baillie MSP has also been a strong supporter of the campaign to fully re-open the Edington and has joined me in raising it at Holyrood.
The ongoing situation at the Edington is part of a wider crisis engulfing our NHS. Despite having 15 years to improve NHS workforce planning, the Scottish Government cannot seem to get a grip on it.
For example, last week new figures revealed that the number of student nurses recruited in Scotland this year is 700 short of the government’s target. Yet the NHS Scotland workforce data for June showed there were over 6,000 nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland.
As well as these workforce issues, the worst ever weekly A&E statistics have just been recorded, with over 3,000 patients across Scotland waiting more than eight hours for treatment in an Emergency Department.
While frontline NHS staff work tirelessly, the SNP-Green Government has failed to make any meaningful progress on the underlying problems of this growing NHS crisis.
Until they do I fear that facilities like the Edington and our communities will continue to suffer.