Meeting set to take place on Children’s Services

A protest is to be held in Skegness over plans to close children's services at Pilgrim Hospital in Bostoin. ANL-180205-075736001
A protest is to be held in Skegness over plans to close children's services at Pilgrim Hospital in Bostoin. ANL-180205-075736001

A meeting is set to take place in Boston tonight (Thursday) for residents to air their concerns over future options for Children’s Services at Pilgrim Hospital.

The meeting, organised by SOS Pilgrim Hospital chairman Phillip Bosworth, is set to take place at Boston Grammar School from 7-9pm.

Mr Bosworth has emailed health bosses, local authority leaders and the local MP to invite them to the meeting.

In an email to interim chairman of the board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust Elaine Baylis, Mr Bosworth said: “I am sure you and your board must share our residents’ serious concerns of the risks to children when and if, and from the on-air interviews, the writing looks to be ‘on the wall’, the children’s ward closed.

“Certainly you have made many thousands of parents extremely anxious, worried and wondering how this has ‘suddenly’ come to crisis level!”

In another email Mr Bosworth also told Lincolnshire County Council leader Coun Martin Hill that he believed ‘temporary means permanent in ULHT language’.

“This is now a very serious matter and a severe worry for residents you serve as leader, all, more than 240,000 people, at least and probably more than a third of Lincolnshire’s 750,000 residents, served by Pilgrim District General Hospital,” he told Coun Hill.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May told Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman that ‘every effort will be made’ to recruit doctors and protect children’s services at Pilgrim Hospital and that the trust ‘wants to continue’ providing those services at Boston.

She was responding to a question by Matt Warman during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Warman said: “With a rising budget and a new medical school for Lincolnshire, this government has very clearly demonstrated its commitment to the NHS in Boston and Skegness. But there are short-term challenges recruiting paediatric staff to the paediatric ward.

“Can my Right Honourable Friend reassure my constituents and parents in my constituency that the decision to make a temporary closure has not yet been made, and that she will work with me to leave no stone unturned so the Trust, NHS England and NHS Improvement can work together to make sure that we recruit the doctors we need and this government is investing in?”

Mrs May said: “He is right that we are supporting the NHS in Boston and Skegness.

“Any decision taken by the trust about the services available will of course be made to ensure that the provision of services is safe for patients.

“The trust is continuing to try to recruit paediatricians to support the service.

“It wants to continue to provide paediatric services at Boston, and every effort will be made to ensure that that can continue.”

Mr Warman said in a statement later: “The best place for children to be treated is of course close to home, but the primary concern is to ensure that treatment is safe, which is why ULHT is considering the best options for children’s services at Pilgrim.

“I am pleased the Prime Minister has confirmed the Government’s support for our local NHS, and that all efforts will be made to ensure that we can recruit the doctors we need to retain local children’s services.

“I will continue to work with ULHT in any way I can to help ensure the best possible outcome for local children.

“In the longer term, the forthcoming Lincolnshire medical school will make a real difference for years to come, but it is vital to address immediate recruitment challenges in the meantime.”

Last Thursday, protestors chanting ‘No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts’ gathered outside Skegness Town Hall

An extraordinary meeting of Skegness Town Council had been called to see what councillors could do to stop any decision being made by the United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust.

A peaceful protest, organised by Labour Party members, started quietly with almost more police officers than protestors. However, support grew just before the start of the meeting, with protestors waving ‘Save Our NHS’.

The debate went on for over an hour resulting in a motion by Skegness Town Council to write strong letters of concern to everyone involved in the decision on the future of children’s services at Pilgrim Hospital - including Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, the ULHT, the CCG and Mr Warman. Recently, the Trust Board for Lincolnshire’s main hospitals spent three hours deliberating before opting to defer their decision on whether to temporarily close children’s services at Pilgrim Hospital.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust board meeting in Sleaford called for further research into all four of the proposed temporary options to maintain safe paediatric services at Boston, after it was felt that there were still too many unanswered questions, and insufficient detail.