Lincolnshire MPs say they are working to resolve the “critical” shortage of staff at Lincolnshire hospitals as soon as possible, as it emerges they knew about the crisis last week.
A leaked document was sent to staff at hospitals in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston and Louth, before being revealed by The Sunday Times’ health editor Shaun Lintern on Sunday, January 2.
The document declares a ‘critical incident’ which meant United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust was “unable to maintain safe staffing levels”, causing “compromised care” for patients.
In an intriguing turn of events, it was discovered Lincolnshire’s MPs were made aware of the shortages at the county’s hospitals between Christmas and New Year, but information was only made available to the public following a leak on Sunday.
The shortage comes at an acutely difficult time for the health sector, as it continues to try to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant.
Gaps are being plugged in the trust with redeployment on non-clinical workers, while an urgent volunteer staff appeal was launched to help with the crisis.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney told The Lincolnite: “Prior to the New Year both myself and my fellow Members of Parliament in Lincolnshire were directly made aware of the developing situation, following the notification that Lincolnshire NHS Hospitals Trust had declared a ‘critical incident’.
“Subsequently, this information was ‘leaked’ to the media over the weekend. Some conversations and communications have taken place between Lincolnshire MPs both locally and with the Department for Health, and Secretary of State.
“My parliamentary colleagues and I will no doubt be updated regularly by both local senior NHS officials and Government Ministers to ascertain what is being, or can be, done to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
“Over the Christmas and New Year period it is a busy time for many, particularly service providers, and for those who work at all levels in the NHS, and the latest testing regime has not assisted the management of resources locally.
“Lincolnshire MPs have earlier today [Monday] received confirmation of a further group briefing and update on the developing situation locally scheduled for tomorrow [Tuesday].”
Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, issued a response on Twitter on Sunday, following the leak of the information, saying ministers are “very much aware” of the shortages and “hugely grateful” for the local staff working through the critical incident.
When asked if he was prepared to back additional COVID-19 prevention methods, Mr Warman responded: “I’ve voted for them before and would again, but currently don’t see the evidence yet for significant changes.”
MPs were given the chance to vote on some coronavirus measures before Christmas, as “Plan B” rules were passed through parliament for compulsory face coverings, new regulation on self isolation and the introduction of COVID passports.
ULHT Medical Director Dr Colin Farquharson said: “As a result of significant staffing pressures due to absence related to COVID-19, we are having to take additional steps to maintain services.
“Our staff continue to work exceptionally hard and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that in spite of the challenges faced, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them, so people should continue to come forward for care.
“People can help us to help them by getting their COVID booster vaccine to protect themselves and their families and reduce pressure on health services.”
Lincoln actor Colin McFarlane shared his views on the announcement of a critical incident, citing a feature in The Lincolnite from November where he called for the public to help Lincoln County Hospital, following a 14-hour wait for his mum to get a bed in A&E.
⭐️As I tweeted at the beginning of November when my Mum first went into Lincoln County Hospital, it was ALREADY overwhelmed then due to staff shortages & that was BEFORE #Omicron hit⭐️#GetVaxxed #WearAMask wash hands & take pressure off the #nhs 🙏🏽
See @thelincolnite 👇🏾 https://t.co/hO3FCusNnA
— Colin McFarlane (@colinmcfarlane) January 3, 2022
The Lincolnite has also contacted Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins, Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, and Grantham and Stamford MP Gareth Davies about the situation.