It’s fair to say that I’m concerned about the NHS in Lincolnshire. As well as the hospitals trust being in financial and clinical ‘special measures’, NHS organisations seem to be reducing services our residents value.
Grantham Hospital’s accident and emergency department remains closed overnight, the Walk-In centre in Lincoln has closed entirely, and now, paediatric services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital are being reviewed because of a lack of doctors and nurses.
I have always valued the council’s relationship with the health service in the county – working together where we are able to help provide good quality services for local people.
Jointly funded work has enabled us to improve how quickly people can leave hospital, help them get the care they need in the community and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
We’ve been able to join-up health and care so that, alongside district councils, we can improve things like how disabled facilities grants are used, and we’re developing neighbourhood teams where people from different organisations work together to get the best results for people’s care. We also continue to commission services which help people to improve their health.
But I’m disappointed plans for changes within the NHS that are needed to deliver safe, good quality services on budget, have not been forthcoming in Lincolnshire.
NHS England requires a strategy for our area to be produced known as a Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP).
Last year, as a council, we advised the local NHS that we could not back their draft plan for Lincolnshire until more detail was put forward about what specific changes might be, and local people had been asked for their views.
I now find it very worrying that despite years of work, our views appear to have been ignored and we are still waiting for a comprehensive plan to be produced.
In the meantime, we are all too frequently seeing services reduced or stopped on safety grounds, as the local NHS struggle on with no clear way out of the black hole they seem to be in.
It’s essential that clear and honest plans are put forward by accountable decision-makers, with sufficient detail on why changes are needed and how they will be delivered and financed. We need to be able to respond on behalf of the Lincolnshire residents we represent.
Maintaining our partnership work is a top priority for us, but without sight of a roadmap, the journey to get our residents quality health services they deserve, is much harder.