A SOLICITOR has been appointed by Friends of the Edington Hospital and North Berwick Community Council to “consider legal action against the NHS”.

Elaine Motion (pictured), partner and chairman at Balfour+Manson in Edinburgh, will work with the groups following the decision by health chiefs to move six beds from the North Berwick hospital to East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington.

The Edington closed to new patients from Monday.

Friends of the Edington Hospital was “shocked” by the decision. It says that no consultation took place with the community and appropriate local bodies and groups.

The group is “greatly concerned” at the move, which East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) says was made “in the face of unprecedented levels of demand” and to “consolidate staffing”, anticipating one of the most challenging winters on record. The move will be reviewed every three months.

Friends of the Edington Hospital chair Murray Duncanson claimed that Peter Murray, chair of East Lothian Integration Joint Board, told him that there was no guarantee the services would return to the hospital, despite the move being called temporary.

He said: “The way this has been handled without due process in terms of public consultation has been scandalous. We are very disappointed with this decision.

“There has been a cloud hanging over the hospital for some time.

“Over 6,000 people have signed a petition [against the closure] and that tells you the depth of feeling and outrage.”

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, community council chair, added that Mrs Motion was “working with us to consider legal action against the NHS”.

She added: “Freedom of information requests have been sent to NHS Lothian by our lawyer; to date, we are still awaiting information that has been requested.”

An ELHSCP spokesperson said they were not aware of any pending legal action at this time.