A TWO-YEAR-OLD girl had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance after a fall in North Berwick – and was then left stranded in Edinburgh – as her mum criticised the lack of a minor injuries service for children in the town.

Amanda McLeod and her family – partner James and their children Melissa, 15, Jason, 12, Emily, 10, Sophie, eight, and two-year-old Willow – moved to Green Apron Park in December after living in Prestonpans for 10 years.

On October 10, Willow fell from her scooter and hit her face on the ground, resulting in a bruised nose and cheek.

Ordinarily, that would have resulted in a trip to the minor injuries service at the town’s Edington Cottage Hospital.

However, the service is not currently available at the hospital – which closed last month to all inpatient work and admissions for at least three months in a bid to consolidate staffing for the winter at East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington, as NHS chiefs anticipated a difficult winter.

Instead, a Community Treatment and Care (CTAC) service is available at the Edington, but this is only for over-18s.

Amanda – who is six months pregnant – said that had the regular minor injuries service at the Edington still been available, she would not have had to call an ambulance and take Willow to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.

Amanda said that the ambulance took more than an hour to get to her from Livingston.

By the time they arrived at A&E at the hospital, she said Willow had “perked up” and was sent home.

The mum said: “Willow had a swollen nose and scratched cheek but, after they checked her over, she was given the all-clear.”

Amanda said if she had been seen at the Edington (pictured right), she would have had a 20-minute walk home, as opposed to being stranded in the city without a way to return to North Berwick.

She added: “The bus service had terminated so I couldn’t get a bus home, no taxi I called would bring me as far as North Berwick, and the trains had all been cancelled so I was stranded in Edinburgh.”

Fortunately, Amanda’s mother recently moved to Edinburgh and she was able to stay the night with her.

She added: “I am six months pregnant and as the accident was outwith our home, I didn’t have my change bag with me for my little girl and there is no food after a certain time at the hospital, so she was absolutely starving by the time I managed to order some food at my mum’s house.

“I was at my wit’s end.

“Luckily, things fell into place with a bit of thinking, but how many other people who don’t drive will have to go through this?

“I’m quite a resilient person but there were some points I think I could have broken down.

“There should be a minor injury unit here or nearer. There should be a service that can help people in that situation with a place to stay or a drive home.

“I got a taxi from the old Sick Kids to Prestonpans a few times and it was over £30 at night. North Berwick is double the distance so not many could afford that – not that I could find an accommodating taxi company.”

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, chairman of North Berwick Community Council, said the incident highlighted the importance of having a minor injuries service at the Edington.

In a letter to the Courier, she said: “Not only is the removal of the inpatient facility and the replacement of minor injuries with a CTAC service putting the lives and health of residents of North Berwick and the surrounding areas at greater risk, but it is putting greater pressure on other NHS services and facilities across the Lothian region.

“The situation is worrying and unsustainable. Not every family is in a position to readily afford a taxi fare between Edinburgh and North Berwick, never mind an overnight stay.

“NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government must get their act together and ensure that all services are reopened at the Edington as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership said: “As we approach what could be one of the most challenging winters on record for the NHS, coupled with staff absence and the continuing threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily consolidate staffing to ensure that we can continue to deliver safe and effective patient care, while protecting the wellbeing of our hard-working staff.

“This unfortunately means that the six inpatient beds and some staff from Edington Cottage Hospital have been temporarily relocated to the East Lothian Community Hospital in order to deal with these extreme pressures. The move will be reviewed every three months and the GP service that is currently based at Edington remains in place.

“Depending on their injury, children could often expect to be transferred to a paediatric service before the temporary closure at Edington was introduced.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and we are grateful to the community for their ongoing patience and understanding at this difficult time.”