Campaigners have slammed the closure of local A&Es across Lincolnshire as hospitals fail to meet key targets in half a decade.
As reported previously, the last time ULHT achieved 95% of patients being treated within four hours of arrival at A&E was September 2014, the same month it surpassed the 85% target to start cancer treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral.
“Staggering lack of foresight in closures”
Louth Hospital Campaigner Julie Speed blamed a “staggering lack of foresight” over the effects of services losses at other Accident and Emergency departments, including Louth and Skegness – which are both now occupied by Urgent Treatment Centres run by Lincolnshire Community Health Service.
“Of course they are seeing more attendances at the remaining A&Es – the fact they closed local A&Es was always going to have a knock on effect,” she said.
“Add to that a social care crisis and an increasing number of people living in poverty and it’s hardly rocket science to see what the result will be.
“It’s high time they stood up for those in their ‘care’ and said to the politicians, this is damaging and can’t be done!
“Grantham needs it’s A&E to meet demand”
Jody Clark, of Fighting for Grantham Hospital which saw its A&E closed overnight in August 2016 said the missed targets showed no improvements being made “regardless of our A&E being closed overnight for 1,196 days and counting”.
“For us, it makes us ask, what have they been doing?” she said.
“Considering they have had urgent care upgrades to help demand, why haven’t significant improvements been made?
“If anything, it shows we need our A&E to help meet the demand.”
“More funding and training needed”
Alison Marriot, from SOS Pilgrim Hospital in Boston said she was “not surprised” by the news.
“There are many well-documented reasons why this is happening nationally and within the county,” she said.
She said more funding and training was needed for the department which has had some improvements made but which, along with Lincoln A&E, has been criticised in the past by the Care Quality Commission.
“If ULHT and the wider health & care system is properly funded and supported going forward, and well-lead with the right training and staff retention schemes, then hopefully we will all experience better in future,” she added.
“Patient safety a concern”
Sarah Fletcher, from Healthwatch Lincolnshire, said the organisation was most concerned “with regards to continued failing performance at ULHT is patient safety.”
“Every month we share patient and carer concerns with the trust and whilst we know they are doing everything they can to improve the situation, delays in accessing treatment can be life changing,” she said.
However, she said patients were telling Healthwatch that the level of care they did receive was “second to none”.
She said the charity recognised the “high demand” issues but added “if patients need treating then they need to be treated in the right place and at the right time”.
Further work is set to take place between the two organisations over the coming months to look at the delays and performance issues.
Trust apologises for performance
Bossed at ULHT have apologised for the missed targets, and say increased demand is taking its toll.
Mark Brassington said: “Although we are treating more people, we accept that we are not performing as well as we should be and some of our patients wait longer than they should to access some treatments, for which we apologise.”
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.