Group calls for answers over hospital’s future

Members of Westside Surgery Focus Group who have launched a Pilgrim SOS campaign.
Members of Westside Surgery Focus Group who have launched a Pilgrim SOS campaign.

A campaign has been launched to protect services at Pilgrim Hospital following repeated delays and changes in reviews over healthcare provision.

The SOS Pilgrim campaign, led by the Westside Focus Group, is fighting for more information on the long-term reviews over healthcare that have been taking place and resulted in numerous rumours about the future of services at Boston’s hospital.

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

Phillip Bosworth, who is leading the campaign with Sue Fidler and Pat Bowles, said the delays were leading to a number of worrying reports surrounding the hospital, including that maternity was to be drastically downgraded and that staff were leaving due to the apprehension caused.

He said: “It’s about getting information out of them, we want to know what is going on behind the scenes.”

The Lincolnshire Sustainable Services Review began in 2013 and later became the Lincolnshire Health And Care (LHAC) review. Other reviews have also been carried out by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (which runs the Pilgrim) and others, and these are set to feed into the LHAC review. Options previously put forward included:

l One specialist emergency centre and one consolidated inpatient Women and Children’s Service located at Pilgrim Hospital

l One specialist emergency centre and one consolidated inpatient Women and Children’s Service located at Lincoln

l One specialist emergency centre at Pilgrim Hospital and Women and Children’s at both hospitals

l One specialist emergency centre at Lincoln and Women and Children’s at both hospitals.

It was said when the reviews began that doing nothing was ‘simply not an option’ and that by 2018 NHS health and care organisations in the county could have a combined budget deficit of upwards of £100m per year.

LHAC was supposed to have compiled a report by September last year and was due to go to public consultation in November - but this was delayed to the new year.

However, in the new year, health systems across the UK were asked for detailed plans and proposals called Sustainability and Transformation Plans which an LHAC spokesman said forced it to consider areas not included in their original review, delaying the process further.

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) said: “The principle of this LHAC review has been to propose a model for the county which delivers safe services which are sustainable in the long term. This has included looking at what services are provided in all acute and community hospitals.

“We have been listening and continue to listen to patients and professionals in the county who tell us that our current model doesn’t always deliver high quality, safe services. This is consistent with a number of national reviews over the last 36 months and reinforces our view that our services must change if we are to improve patient care and safety.

“At this stage, we are still actively engaging with patients and staff to finalise a set of options that will be put to the public later this year. No decision has yet been reached on what services will be located within Boston’s hospital but we know that Pilgrim Hospital has a strong future. No options will be put forward unless they are clinically safe and the quality of care we provide to patients across our whole county is our number one priority.”

Jim Heys, NHS England’s locality director for Lincolnshire, said: “We will continue to monitor how LHAC is progressing and keep under review the work that is being done. We will also be looking to see how it links into Lincolnshire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which the county’s health and care system is required to work together to produce to show how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years – ultimately delivering the NHS Five Year Forward View.”

A spokesman for the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) said the trust were unaware of staff leaving due to the delays or that it was affecting their ability to recruit. They said that the review ULHT were doing into their clinical strategy will be fed into LHAC’s own review. They said: “We want a decision to be made, but it has to be the right decision. There are a lot of factors to consider and you can’t rush it.”

With regards to maternity, a new block has been built at Pilgrim - named M1 - to house this service.

MP Matt Warman said: “On the one hand, the sooner we can be as public as possible about the future of ULHT and Pilgrim the better. However, it’s in no one’s interest to jump the gun and come out telling people half the story during the consultation.”

He added: “Where Phillip is absolutely right is to say that delays do not help and we will want to be talking about the consultation sooner rather than later, but that doesn’t necessarily produce something that shows the best results.”

He said that NHS England was about creating a safe sustainable healthcare system and that making the NHS financially sustainable was part of it but not a driving factor.

He said: “The whole thing has to come up with a safe, sustainable solution for the future.”

When the review was launched and concerns raised, The Standard launched its own petition calling on services to be safeguarded. We remain ready to hand this in if needed. The group is planning to launch a website and has a petition online called ‘Stop United Lincs Hospitals Trust from downgrading Boston Pilgrim Hospital’.

To sign visit: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/127285