Councillors said losing services from Gainsborough’s John Coupland Hospital would be “disastrous” for the district and the town, and one even warned that hospital bosses “can’t be trusted”.
A motion before West Lindsey district councillors on Monday raised fears that consultant-led outpatient services would be withdrawn and called on the authority to write to United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust expressing “extreme concern” over the moves.
ULHT is considering how it delivers “some outpatient services at some peripheral sites,” but said it has not yet decided on the details.
Responding to the motion, council leader Councillor Owen Bierley said he was concerned about the news.
“That is the main NHS hub within our district,” he said.
“We cannot dispute the unprecedent impacts this pandemic is having on our NHS services, however we must seek to protect local services for local people wherever we can, particularly in rural communities like ours where there are often already barriers to accessing services.”
Councillor Trevor Young said the district was the “poor relation” when it comes to health and called for leaders to be “strong and forceful”.
“We need to get them around the table, and we need to get some solutions around the future use of John Coupland.
“It’s a fantastic resource, we could improve health and well being across the district.
“We don’t want to let this facility slip. If it does, it’ll be disastrous for the district.”
Councillor Roger Patterson pointed to campaigns to save other hospitals, including Grantham and District, saying “they promise one thing and they fail to deliver all the time”.
“They can’t be trusted, so whatever we get from them we need to, as a council, keep our finger on the pulse and hold them to it,” he said.
Councillor Angela White, who sits on the health scrutiny committee at Lincolnshire County Council, warned of a difficult time for people in the future waiting for operations due to the impact of COVID-19 on services.
Councillor Michael Devine, meanwhile, warned that the trust was “clearly centralising health facilities” and said people would struggle to find ways of getting to Lincoln.
“The health provision in this town, probably the district as well, is gradually becoming worse.
“We have two doctor surgeries and we’re planning to build hundreds and thousands of houses — how are we going to manage?
“The whole health care in this district is just not good enough, and the people responsible for it, the CCG and the health trust, they need to get their act together and improve it,” he said.
Former WLDC Council leader Councillor Jeff Summers hinted at a groundhog day situation where “things just keep going round don’t they?” He remembered having similar discussions several years ago.
The motion was unanimously supported by the whole council.