‘Time to step up campaign’ to save servces at Pilgrim Hospital, says mum

Rachel Bray outside Skegness Towen Council. ANL-180208-151522001
Rachel Bray outside Skegness Towen Council. ANL-180208-151522001

A mum from Boston travelled the 23 miles to Skegness to appeal for others like her to help step up the campaign to save children’s services at Pilgrim Hospital after the latest announcement by UHLT.

Two extra private ambulances were put in place last Wednesday, sooner than previous thought, coinciding with the announcement by United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust had launched its new interim model for children’s and maternity services to transport high risk cases to other hospitals.

The new model states:

• Outpatient clinics continuing at Pilgrim

• Pilgrim managing only low-risk neonatal births

• A 24 hour paediatric assessment and observation unit (PAU) established on the children’s ward at Pilgrim, offering restricted periods of observation

• Children’s day surgery remaining at Pilgrim

• Consultant-led maternity birthing unit remaining at Pilgrim

• 98% of current activity remaining at Pilgrim

Rachel Bray - a member of SOS Pilgrim Hospital who says her seven-year-old son, Oliver, was saved by staff at Pilgrim Hospital when he stopped breathing at birth - stood up at the public meeting at Skegness Town Council to update councillors on the changes, warning that the downgrade of services had begun and it was time to step up action to save them.

She said: “I felt I had to go along because mums in Skegness are going to be affected more than us in Boston because the distance they will have to travel to Lincoln and they need to know what is happening.

”One Skegness couple, in particular, rely on Pilgrim Hospital as their son is a qualraplegic with celebral palsy, epilepsy, chronic lung disease and numerous other complaints and is admitted to the children’s ward on a regular basis for one to two weeks and sometimes longer.

“It is hard enough for them to visit with two other children.

“They want to know if it will take something serious to happen to a child before someone realises what a bad idea this is.”

As a member of the Trust, she says there are still questions to be asked.

“We got a newsletter before the public announcement,“ she said. “It stated the ULHT had managed to staff the existing rota for a couple more weeks but still started the new interim model on August 1.

“The neonatal gestational age wasn’t mentioned, but was confirmed by ULHT to be 37 weeks now - NOT 34 weeks as previously mentioned. This means that pregnant mums and babies born before 37 weeks will be stabilised and moved to Lincoln or elsewhere - our concerns are:

“Will a midwife be with them on transfer in case any problems arise? What will happen in an emergency and they are still 20 miles from the hospital? Treating babies and mums of this nature is specialist and time is often of the essence.

“We must now step up our campaign because in effect the downgrading has begun. We must remember what happened at Grantham because those changes were supposed to be temporary and now they are permanent.”

* The Standard has been informed the patient transfer service was delayed because staff are not able to operate equipment.

In a leaked email, a senior nurse said it has been delayed as crews could not operate some equipment safely.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has acknowledged “a number of issues” and said it was working to resolve them.

It said it expected the service to start on Monday.