DOCTORS in North Berwick say they are "saddened" after being told that the town's Edington Cottage Hospital is to temporarily close to all inpatient work and admissions later this month.

As the Courier reported yesterday, NHS bosses have made the decision to consolidate staffing at East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington "in the face of unprecedented levels of demand", with the Edington's six inpatient beds and the staff who support them being temporarily relocated to the Haddington hospital.

The move, which is temporary and will be reviewed every three months, comes as East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) anticipates "one of the most challenging winters on record".

Reacting to the announcement, doctors at North Berwick Group Practice have said that they are "aware that many patients may be upset and feel disadvantaged by this closure".

A post on Facebook by Dr Morgan Flynn on behalf of all the practice says: "We were called to a meeting this afternoon with Ms Alison Macdonald of East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP).

"She has announced to us that a decision has been made by Lothian Health Senior Management Team to close the Edington Cottage Hospital to all inpatient work and admissions from September 13.

"We have been told this is for a three-month period and the decision will be reviewed mid-December. The Edington should reopen for inpatient work and admissions following this review.

"There will be a minor injury service in the Edington during the normal weekday working hours and will be nurse-led. This service should be little changed from the minor injury service we currently offer.

"It was explained to us that the reason for this closure is because of staff sickness and absence in other Lothian health sites. They are trying to maintain maximum number of open and available patient beds.

"As a practice, all of the doctors and all staff are very saddened by this development.

"The Edington has been providing good patient care for the population of North Berwick and surrounding area for almost 111 years since it opened.

"We realise that everybody in the neighbourhood values the care and support provided by the Edington Cottage Hospital.

"We are aware that many patients may be upset and feel disadvantaged by this closure.

"We at the practice all hope that the undertaking we have been given will come to pass that the Edington will return to full inpatient care and capacity after this time of emergency.

"If you have any major concerns, please express these directly to the chief executive of ELHSCP or the chief executive of Lothian Health."

When the move was announced yesterday, Alison Macdonald, chief officer of ELHSCP, had described the decision as "very difficult".

She said “While the decision to relocate the six inpatient beds at Edington Cottage Hospital was very difficult, it has been made to ensure that patient safety is maintained.

“We are approaching what could be one of the most challenging winters on record for the NHS, coupled with the continuing threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"This reality is the reason why we must act now, in a planned way, to consolidate staffing and ensure that we can maintain patient safety, continue to deliver quality care and protect the wellbeing of our hard-working staff.

"The relocation of the inpatient beds to East Lothian Community Hospital is temporary and will be reviewed every three months.

"We will be continuing to care for the small number of patients currently in the unit and to support them when they are ready to move on to their planned discharge destination.

"The GP service that is currently based at Edington Cottage Hospital will remain in place."