January 19, 2022 4.16 pm

Council health bosses reveal “serious concerns” over NHS Lincolnshire proposals

“Significant” improvement needed but “unanswered questions” remain

Lincolnshire County Council health bosses say they have “serious concerns” around some of the proposals for local NHS services.

The authority’s Health Scrutiny Committee said it agreed with the need for “significant and permanent” improvements to local services which ensured the “highest possible standards of patient care are provided giving the best possible outcomes for patients”.

However, it says three of the four proposals put forward by NHS Lincolnshire caused “serious concerns”.

Councillor Carl Macey, chairman of the committee, said councils could not support proposals for a 24/7 walk-in Urgent Treatment Centre at Grantham and District Hospital, in place of the current Accident and Emergency department.

“There has been a strong, passionate campaign from local residents in Grantham to restore the overnight A&E service which we have supported with two referrals to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care,” he said.

“Residents feel their views have been overlooked and when services have been gradually removed over the past twenty years, the committee isn’t reassured that further changes to services provided at the hospital will be avoided.”

He added that there were also “unanswered questions” around travel between hospitals and what services would be provided.

On proposals to use the hospital as a “centre of excellence” for planned orthopaedic surgery, Councillor Macey pointed to concerns over the accessibility of the hospital, particularly around limited public transport.

“It’s not clear how many patients would choose to have surgery at a hospital outside Lincolnshire and we’re not convinced that this proposal would necessarily improve recruitment and retention of staff.”

But he said the committee did agree with plans to integrate medical and community beds, which he said would “aid recruitment and retention of consultants and doctors and support more integrated health and social care services which has got to be good for patients”.

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

Elsewhere in the county, however, the council said proposals to establish a “stroke centre of excellence” at Lincoln County Hospital would remove a service from Boston Pilgrim Hospital.

“Many patients each year are currently treated at Boston and this could have a significant impact on people in the east of the county who rely on these services and who might otherwise travel out of the county to a nearer hospital.

“It also does nothing for the perception in Boston that Pilgrim services are being downgraded,” he said.

“We want to see improved services rather than any reduction in support across the county for our residents.”

He said the committee would continue to press their views until a final decision was made by NHS Lincolnshire by March 31, 2022.

The NHS launched a consultation on their latest plans in September last year, and say they will result in better access to urgent and emergency care, shorter waiting times, fewer cancellations of planned procedures and better retention of staff.

Hospital campaigners, however, say bosses haven’t listened to the concerns of residents who feel the UTC is a continued downgrade on their previous service level.