East Lindsey councillors reject ULHT no confidence motion

The debate continues regarding children's services at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. ANL-180905-064737001
The debate continues regarding children's services at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. ANL-180905-064737001

Councillors have rejected a call for a vote of no confidence in the management of United Lincolnshire’s Hospital Trust.

Instead members of East Lindsey District Council said they wanted to have confidence in healthcare bosses going forward but said it was ‘wholly conditional’ on ULHT restoring services at Pilgrim Hospital.

Labour Councillor Tony Howard put forward the original motion at the authority’s full council meeting tonight.

In his motion he said residents in East Lindsey were distressed by the ongoing issues in relation to children and mother services at Boston Pilgrim Hospital.

He said: “It is distressing, mothers I have spoken to are absolutely at the point of tears trying to explain their problems and how difficult their lives had become for them.”

The debate saw councillors warn against ‘knocking’ the management and staff, and recognise difficulties in both finances and recruiting staff.

However, Councillor Sarah Parkin, said those running healthcare services should be held to account.

The amendment was put forward by Councillor Craig Leyland, who said: “I think it would be very difficult for this council to declare a vote of no confidence in an organisation that’s going through a very difficult time.

“To do this would be incredibly counter productive.”

A number of councillors praised the hard work of staff at all of the hospitals.

Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said staff would not want to come to work in the area due to a lack of teaching hospitals and a trust under fire.

It was agreed to write to ULHT and call on them to continue to provide ‘honest, open and faithful monthly progress reports’ to the Health Scrutiny Committee and ELDC’s Overview Committee and to ask both Louth and Horncastle and Boston and Skegness MPs to work together.

East Lindsey District Council would have been the second authority to call a vote of no confidence, with Boston Borough Council taking the step earlier this year.

Councillor Tom Ashton, who represents the Sibsey and Stickney, ward however, said there was a difference between then and now.

“That was before the guarantee that services were going to continue,” he said.

He said, however, that he felt ULHT management had not covered themselves in glory at previous public meetings.

“It’s right that we express the concern and this council shows it cares about people and shares their concern,” he said.

Following the meeting ULHT Medical Director Dr Neill Hepburn said: “In challenging circumstances it has been recognised by both NHS Improvement and NHS England that we have done everything we can to ensure services are maintained at Pilgrim, whilst prioritising patient safety at all times.

“Considering that six months ago we thought we had to look at options which included closing many of the paediatric services at Pilgrim all together as a result of staffing issues, we’re pleased to have been able to maintain the majority of services at the hospital under our interim model, and we continue to recruit to enable us to improve the service further in future.

“This short-term service model has now been up and running since August and so far no issues have been experienced or reported with the service.

“We would like to reassure our patients and families that for them it really remains business as usual at Pilgrim hospital and we ask them to attend as normal.

“Our aim is to maintain and develop our maternity, special care baby unit and children’s services at Pilgrim hospital in the long term.”

Coun Howard said the motion gave some support to the campaigning parents we have spoken to but the Labour group had hoped for more.

“I have witnessed, first-hand, parents moved to tears with worry over this issue. Individually they struggle to get positive answers from ULHT management and it is the responsibility of those in authority, such as council leaders, to go into battle on their behalf,” he said.

“In the end the vote showed that across the council there is concern. I just hope that the resolution is not too timid to get the results required”