A former town councillor has launched a renewed appeal to re-establish Louth and Grantham Hospitals as full A&E centres after she and her family experienced issues first-hand.
Pauline Palmer – who served on Mablethorpe and Sutton Town Council and whose husband Stephen Palmer sat at district and county level – has received more than 830 signatures on her change.org petition since setting it up at the beginning of January.
Mrs Palmer and a close family member have both experienced being transferred away from Louth Urgent Care Centre due to staff being unable to deal with their medical problems.
On November 26, Mrs Palmer suffered a bang on the head and several days later on December 3 went to Louth UCC after phoning 111.
Following several tests she was then passed on to Grimsby following concerns of a bleed on the brain. She spent more than five hours in A&E before being sent home with high blood pressure put down to anxiety.
Several weeks later on January 8, Mrs Palmer said she was “in immense pain” and her husband drove her to Pilgrim A&E where she was found to have a cyst in her neck and post-concussion syndrome.
An eight-hour stay in hospital later she was sent home with strong painkillers and diazapam for the spasm.
The day prior, on January 7, a close family member went to Louth UCC with an infection in their mouth causing intense swelling which had not been aided by a prescription from a doctor.
She was told initially to go to Lincoln Hospital but subsequently had to be sent on to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for an urgent operation.
Mrs Palmer said the issues “highlight the pressure that Pilgrim and Grimsby are under, especially at present”.
“If they [Louth] were a fully-equipped A&E they would have been able to have done more for her, and me,” said Mrs Palmer.
“If Louth and Grantham reopened as A&E hospitals there would be four in Lincolnshire, it would be less far for people close to those [areas] to travel but also it would take the pressure off of Boston and Lincoln.”
She added, however: “I cannot thank Pilgrim staff for their care on that day and I am back to full health now.”
Both Mrs Palmer and the family member had to rely on their partners to drive them to the hospitals.
“There’s no way you could do it with public transport, that’s just ridiculous.
“You have to have a car to be able to do it but I assume there’s a lot of people on the coast that don’t drive or have access to a car… they’d have to rely on the voluntary car service or something where they have to pay. It’s just not practical distance-wise.”
Mrs Palmer suggested diverting funding to extend Louth and Grantham A&Es, rather than Boston.
She said both hospitals had enough space to accommodate extra staff and that facilities would be cheaper in the long-term.
She felt improvements to Louth and Grantham would help attract staff.
Last week Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee said it had “serious concerns” about proposals for the future of local health services.
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”.
Its concerns included the impact on people in the east of the county who would have to travel, possibly outside of the county, to access their nearest hospital.
In response to the petition, Clair Raybould, director of operations at NHS Lincolnshire CCG said: “As the petition is currently live it would not be appropriate for us to comment at this time.
“We will of course review and respond once any petition is submitted to NHS Lincolnshire CCG. We have recently completed a 12-week public consultation inviting people from across Lincolnshire to share their views on a range of NHS services, including urgent and emergency care services at Grantham and District Hospital.
“We are currently reviewing public feedback to ensure that it influences any decisions about the future of these NHS services.
“We do not comment on individual patient cases. We encourage anyone who has concerns about a service to contact the service provider’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service for the appropriate support.”