Campaigners for Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital vow to keep fighting in face of latest proposals by health bosses

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Boston hospital campaigners have vowed to keep fighting to make sure parents and carers’ concerns are heard.

It follows the launch of the Healthy Conversations public engagement by NHS partners across Lincolnshire.

The services could see Grantham A&E downgraded to an urgent treatment centre.

Alison Mariott, from SOS Pilgrim, said the group were “delighted” that consultant-led maternity services were staying at the hospital, but said they were not surprised about the proposal not to return to previous “full-inpatient” models.

They were also disappointed the gestation admission criteria for the neonatal unit would not return to at least 30 weeks.

“We always knew that interim would mean permanent. However, our population needs an inpatient ward without time-limits on stays.

“The trust and wider health system knows this, they know Lincolnshire’s poor infrastructure, and yet they have not listened to the public and front-line professionals regarding this,” she said. 

“But we will continue to help the public make ULHT aware of the impacts of their decisions, so that parents and carers’ concerns are heard, understood and acted upon – as we have been doing for the last six months, with some success because there have been improvements to the August 2018 model.”

Other good news from the group was an increase in the time children can stay at the hospital, from 12 to nearly 24 hours, before having to be transferred to Lincoln, but said it still does not go far enough.

The group raised concerns that any reduction in services would continue to hamper recruitment and retention.

“It certainty will help, but the service must be able to offer training and experience opportunities which will attract and motivate new staff. Without any evidence of concrete plans to address this, we fear a slow “removal of the plaster” leading to unsustainable children’s services, which will then make consultant-led maternity unviable.

“This must be avoided as it has been confirmed on many occasions now that it would be unsafe to lose consultant-led maternity.”

The group called for more information about what some of the plans would look like and for public consultation to take place  “on any permanent changes which involve removing or centralising services.”

Away from Women’s and Children’s and maternity services, they also raised concerns over the centralisation of stroke services and others, calling for more clarity.

Boston Borough Council leader Councillor Michael Cooper has also called on the public to speak up on the changes.

He said: “It is vital that we have the best possible health services available to Boston and the borough, and there is now opportunity for everyone to speak up in support of this.

“The council’s health task and finish group has met with representatives of the SOS Pilgrim Hospital group and this will continue to be at the top of the agenda.

“The council will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for Boston and the borough.”

Two consultation events are set to take place over the next two weeks, in Boston on Wednesday March 13, from 2-7pm at the Len Medlock voluntary centre, and in Skegness on Tuesday, March 19, from 2-7pm, at the Storehouse.