February 25, 2020 10.40 am This story is over 50 months old

Bosses in talks to bring junior doctors back to Boston paediatrics

They were withdrawn in 2018

Lincolnshire hospital bosses are in talks with education officials to bring back junior doctors to Boston Pilgrim Hospital’s paediatrics ward.

Health Education East Midlands (HEEM) withdrew trainees from the ward in August 2018 and relocated them to Lincoln County Hospital.

The education authority had previously raised concerns about the safety of patients and staff at the hospital.

It followed a review of the children’s ward in Boston by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) after the unit faced severe staffing shortages.

Dr Neill Hepburn, medical director at ULHT, said the paediatric ward is now safe and staffing shortages have been “largely addressed”. Picture: Calvin Robinson.

Now, trust bosses have said talks have begun with the education body to fully return junior doctors to the ward.

The children’s ward was put under review by ULHT due to a lack of staff to run it at a necessary level.

A new model for the unit, which included a paediatric assessment unit, was launched in August 2018.

But HEEM decided to withdraw junior doctors from rotation to the ward in the same month.

Instead, the authority moved trainee doctors within the trust to Lincoln, but some were able to continue daytime work at Boston.

Talks began with HEEM last month and officials said discussions are ongoing.

Photo: Getty

Meanwhile, trust bosses said the new paediatrics model has progressed well and is safe for trainees to return.

Dr Neill Hepburn, medical director at the trust, said in a report that the staffing issues at the unit had “largely been addressed” and were in a good position.

He added that children on the ward were now treated quicker and the trust wanted to “build on this”.

Councillor Carl Macey, who chairs the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire, said progress at the hospital was good but that the committee would keep an eye on the ward.

“I think overall the report is incredibly positive,” he said.

Councillor Carl Macey, chair of the health scrutiny panel for Lincolnshire.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we were hearing about how fragile the service is.

“Now we are seeing improvements with the recruitment they have done, we are seeing more doctors moving into those areas where they need them.

“There is still concern over nursing and we are looking to see that recruitment moving forward.”

The future model for the paediatrics ward will be revealed in the acute services review when it is put out to public consultation.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of the trust, said he wanted to see the review go out to consultation this year.

It was revealed last year that proposals for hospitals in the region would cost around £450 million over the next decade, with “suggested changes” in the acute services review costing £52 million alone.

No date has been set for the public consultation of the review.

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