A fire which closed Lincoln County Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department, with patients sent elsewhere for treatment, should serve as a warning against centralising services, councillors have said.
Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee finalised its response to United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust’s plans for its nuclear medicines department to be brought under Lincoln County Hospital or Lincoln and Boston Pilgrim Hospital on Wednesday.
The committee did not support either option and raised concerns over the displacement of patients, the impact on staffing and strain on car parking.
“The committee is not convinced by the arguments put forward in support of this reconfiguration, and is disappointed that no consultation option was put forward enabling the service to continue at both Boston and Grantham, as well as Lincoln,” said the response.
“For the committee, the recurring theme of recent years has been the gradual erosion of hospital services in Grantham, and the centralisation of services art Lincoln.”
Councillors however, also noted the recent arson attack at Lincoln County Hospital on March 29.
The incident saw patients and staff evacuated from the from the interventional radiology room.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the fire, but the treatment room was “completed gutted”.
It forced the closure of the hospital’s A&E service while patients due X-rays, CT and MRI scans were also asked not to attend.
Councillor Stephen Woodliffe said: “What [if this happens again]? I don’t think the idea of one hospital having all the services is necessarily safe.”
He said his concern was that centralisation to Lincoln was the main target with the shortage of staff being used as an “useful excuse for closing down everywhere else and shifting everything here.”
Councillor Mark Whittington said” The recent fire… if that had been the only A&E in Lincolnshire we wouldn’t have that department.
“That shows me the fallacy of centralising all services and the very real danger of doing that”.
He feared ULHT would not listen to the councillors’ concerns, however, adding “they’ve got an agenda to centralise all services to Lincoln and that will be to the detriment of all those people in Lincolnshire who don’t live there.”
Councillor Ray Wootten said the movement of services was “like a dripping tap where the washer needs repairing”.
“If it’s not repaired, it’ll just keep going away from Grantham and we’ll have more and more services gone,” he added.