Hospital bosses promise ‘Boston’s A&E is safe’ as councillors raise closure fears

Boston Pilgrim Hospital. ENGANL00120131112162248
Boston Pilgrim Hospital. ENGANL00120131112162248

NHS bosses have promised they will not axe the A&E at Pilgrim Hospital, after councillors raised fears that cuts could mean its days are numbered.

East Lindsey councillors are so concerned at the future of the service at Boston’s hospital that they passed a motion to write to the Chief Executive and board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust expressing their fears.

The motion stated: “Grave concern is expressed regarding the possible move of the Accident & Emergency Department at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, to Lincoln County Hospital.”

It added: “This is unacceptable. By the very nature of emergency medicine, and the ‘golden hour’ rule in many cases needing to be observed, this could be very dangerous.”

However, ULHT – which is currently in special measures – flatly denied this is on the cards.

A spokesman said: “There are no plans to close A&E at Pilgrim.”

They added: “United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is committed to delivering safe, high quality affordable services. We are working closely with our clinical commissioning groups and county council as part of Lincolnshire Health and Care review which will consider Bruce Keogh’s proposals to provide good quality, sustainable services for all.”

However, a national NHS review could re-classify departments to ‘emergency centres’ and ‘major emergency centres’. It is unclear what classification Boston’s A&E would have.

Lincolnshire Health and Care is also reviewing the county’s services and it too denied it would look at closing Boston’s A&E.

A spokesman said: “None of the trials or pilots involve major changes to hospital provision and it has never been proposed that Pilgrim Hospital loses its A&E department.”

ULHT needs to save cash in the next five years to prevent a predicted £105 million deficit, prompting speculation that Pilgrim Hospital may lose some services to Lincoln.

This year, The Standard revealed the cost of running the Pilgrim has spiralled from just under £49 million in 2000/01 to more than £111 million in 2013/14.

Between 2004 and 2013 the number of people visiting Boston’s A&E department shot up 24.9 per cent.

Boston Borough Council has also reaffirmed its support of the hospital. Leader Coun Peter Bedford said: “We will lend all help and support to any efforts made to retain and return all health services which have been historically and are currently available in Boston.”