On a cold, wet Wednesday afternoon, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust’s chief operating officer Mark Brassington was valiantly trying to reassure councillors that the trust was committed to a 24/7 Grantham A&E. Hours later, the news broke that the region’s hospitals will continue under special measures.
In a committee room tucked away at the back of county council headquarters, Mr Brassington took questions on the saga, which, as one councillor put it, has been going on for 1,156 days and counting.
He gave as much reassurance as he could and said the trust was committed to a 24/7 service in the town.
Hours earlier, his colleagues were being grilled over poor communication in the county’s pain management services.
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It was Groundhog Day in Lincolnshire. Health services under pressure and, once again, it received the certificate to show for it.
It’s been two years since ULHT was placed in special measures following “serious concerns” from inspectors
NHS Improvement took the reins and also placed the trust in financial special measures.
Since then, it’s been the same story played out in the media, committee rooms and board meetings.
Emergency departments are under pressure, staffing levels are a serious concern and the trust always has one eye on its balance sheet.
The county’s health scrutiny chief, Councillor Carl Macey, said changes to bring health services in the region up to standard have always been “frustratingly slow”.
Andrew Morgan, chief executive at ULHT who took control in July, said he is “determined” to make improvements.
But, previous plans which health bosses assured the public would bring the trust up to standard have fallen short.
The trust is not unique in the challenges it faces, but it does fall upon health bosses to find solutions for them.
All of this sounds familiar, almost deja vu.
Meanwhile, trust bosses will continue to sit before committees and offer reassurance. All the while, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is still dim.
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