Fears for Pilgrim Hospital services as trust aims to prevent £105 million black hole

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. ENGEMN00120130105103841
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. ENGEMN00120130105103841

A plan to prevent a £105 million funding black hole for Lincolnshire’s hospitals has sparked fears for services at Pilgrim Hospital.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust released their five year strategy last week, which outlines plans for its hospitals – including Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital.

The trust says it expects to have a £26 million deficit this year and without reform that would rise to £105 million by 2018. It says ‘doing nothing’ is not an option.

However its plan mentions ‘centralisation of care’, concentrating on specialised urgent care on ‘fewer sites’. It says both Boston and Lincoln’s maternity units are ‘under the nationally recommended numbers’ for their size.

The report has led some to fear services – including A&E and even maternity – at the Pilgrim could be under threat.

One staff member, who did not wish to give their nameas they feared for their job, told The Standard that staff hoped the local community would stand by the hospital.

They said: “I think it all depends on the local community and what they’ll stand for.

“We need the community to be up in arms about what they’re planning. We need the local community to say ‘no’.”

A spokesman for ULHT said no decisions had been made about how hospitals will develop and work will now start on agreeing how services can be configured.

They said: “This document follows on from the Lincolnshire Sustainable Services Review in setting out a high-level vision for how services will develop in Lincolnshire’s hospitals over the next five years.

“The document outlines the fact that the case for change to hospital services is overwhelming, whilst recognising that above all, we want to deliver the highest quality care possible for our patients.”

UNISON’s Victoria Smith said: “Unison believes there should be A&E available where possible and we don’t think that closing down major A&E departments is a good idea.”

She said this stood for the maternity unit as well.

Boston MP Mark Simmonds said: “The Pilgrim A&E is a valuable resource for the Boston area. I have been in regular contact with ULHT and can assure Boston that I have very strongly made representations to health officials to maintain the existing A&E provision. It would be unacceptable for my constituents, to make patients travel to Lincoln.”

The strategy news came on Tuesday as MPs debated a clause in the care bill which could see ‘trust special administrators’ given powers to order changes to a hospital’s services, including downgrading it or even shutting it.

Mr Simmonds supported the clause and dismissed oppostion ‘scaremongering’. He said the clause is not about shutting services but getting swift action to fix issues.