Skegness’ urgent treatment centre has been called a “second-rate service” as councillors urged health bosses to restore services after the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillors agreed at Wednesday’s Health Scrutiny Committee that the centre’s opening times, and those at Louth UTC, should only be a temporary measure due to the pandemic and reopen on a 24/7 basis when lockdown is over.
Councillor Stephen Woodliffe asked “why it is that Skegness and the areas around it are receiving such a second-rate service?”
Cllr Colin Matthews said that it is currently “unbelievably difficult to get conventional National Health Service treatment.”
He added that following a recent incident, when he arrived at Skegness Hospital, “he was the only patient in the whole hospital.”
He said the hospital “is not operating as an urgent treatment centre” and “is being closed down by stealth.”
Maz Fosh, Chief Executive for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, disagreed with Cllr Matthews’ claims saying that “this is not being closed by stealth at all. We are responding to a global pandemic.”
Tracy Pilcher, Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive for LCHS NHS Trust, said that one waiting area at Skegness Hospital “is currently under health protection around an outbreak.”
Cllr Matthews argued that “we need to stop the vetting through 111 and actually encourage people to go to the hospital and get treated for urgent cases.”
Maz Fosh replied: “I do make no apologies though of wanting to protect my people, my workforce during a global pandemic and also my patients.
“We have to do all we can to stop transmission for not only our population but for our loved ones.”
Cllr Carl Macey said “It’s clear that if you know the UTC is closed, you’re going to go to Pilgrim or Grimsby. There’s a lot of distrust for 111.”
Health bosses said there is little evidence to suggest this is happening in large numbers.
It was agreed by councillors that urgent treatment centres will return to normal hours after the pandemic and that the hours of 8am to 10pm are only temporary.