AN MSP says he is "deeply concerned" that the temporary moving of inpatient beds from North Berwick's Edington Cottage Hospital "will be used as an excuse" to "effectively close the Edington".

Craig Hoy (Con), South Scotland MSP and a Haddington and Lammermuir councillor, made the comments following a decision by NHS bosses 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 from September 13.

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".

Doctors at North Berwick Group Practice have said they are "saddened" by the move and are "aware that many patients may be upset and feel disadvantaged by this closure".

Now, Mr Hoy has criticised health bosses' decision and has written to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP and Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Lothian, outlining his concerns.

The MSP said: “I am deeply concerned by the news about the temporary closure of the Edington Cottage Hospital in North Berwick later this month.

"Patients do better when they are in their own communities, which is why local health services are so important.

“Given the increasing size of East Lothian’s communities, we need the SNP Government to properly fund localised healthcare and hospital provision in the county.

“I am deeply concerned that this will be used as an excuse to permanently centralise inpatient services in East Lothian and to effectively close the Edington.

“This move has taken place without any public consultation and is the thin end of the wedge which could see services removed from both North Berwick and eventually Belhaven Hospital in Dunbar.

“I have written to the chief executive of NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government to express my concerns and to seek reassurances that inpatient work and admissions will return to the Edington Cottage Hospital in the near future.”

The Courier has contacted East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership and the Scottish Government for comment.

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, chair of North Berwick Community Council (NBCC), said: "The community council were shocked and saddened to hear Lothian healthboard have decided to move in patient care for 12 weeks from the Edington Cottage Hospital.

"Most residents in North Berwick will have family members or friends who have stayed, under the excellent care of the staff at the Edington, at one point or another.

"NBCC were particularly disappointed that no consultation or communication has been had with the community nor any advance notification to us.

"It is our understanding that the closure is due to Lothian healthboard struggling to fill nursing vacancies.

"NBCC will be discussing the changes at our next meeting and I anticipate that thereafter, we will write to the healthboard to reiterate, on behalf of the community, the importance of the continued provision of the Edington, both for in patent care as well as minor injuries and that full services must be reinstated at the earliest opportunity."

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, said: "It’s disappointing but little else can be done in the circumstances.

"Patient safety must be paramount and that requires a full compliment of staff.

"It’ll be very disruptive and distressing for many so every effort must be made to ensure it’s as short as possible."