A children’s ward that did not admit patients for three weeks because of a staff shortage has returned to full service.

Bosses at NHS Lothian had suspended admissions to the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

At the time first minister Alex Salmond described that as “clearly an unsatisfactory situation”.

Trainee paediatric doctors were removed from the hospital in April, reducing the number of doctors available for out-of-hours cover.

Staff at the hospital still assessed patients between 8am and 8pm during the three-week period and transferred 35 children who needed to be admitted for treatment to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

NHS Lothian said staffing at St John’s is now sufficient enough to provide a full service again. Additional staff have been recruited at the hospital for long-term support, with three consultant neonatologists and two consultant paediatricians due to take up post there in the coming weeks.

Trainee doctors will also return to the children’s ward, with two due to start in August.

David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “The medical and nursing staff at St John’s made Herculean efforts in order to maintain children’s and maternity services. Despite this, for the three weeks in July we were unable to ensure that adequate back-up was in place if there was an unplanned absence.

“The alternative of crossing fingers and hoping for the best was not good enough.

“I am delighted to say now that the department is stronger than ever and we are back to full strength to provide the high quality of care associated with St John’s Hospital.”