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Doctors’ shortage crisis worsens: Lincolnshire neurology service closed to new patients

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Neurology services at all Lincolnshire hospitals have been closed to new patients for the next four months due to staffing shortages.

The neurology units at Lincoln County Hospital, Boston Pilgrim Hospital and Grantham Hospital provide care and treatment for patients suffering from nervous system disorders.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the county’s hospitals, said that the “difficult decision” was made after efforts to extend the visiting consultant service from Nottingham beyond the end of the year failed.

The service currently relies on visiting consultants from Nottingham and Sheffield.

Deputy director of operations at ULHT, Neil Ellis, said: “The neurology service within Lincolnshire’s hospitals is provided by a combination of ULHT and visiting consultants from Nottingham and Sheffield.

“Unfortunately, we have been notified that the visiting consultant service from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust will end on December 31, 2016, despite our efforts to extend the relationship or notice period.

“This will result in a significant reduction in the capacity of the service, so we have had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close the service to new referrals from December 1, 2016, until April 1, 2017.

“During this period, however, the service will still accept two week wait referrals and urgent referrals linked to convulsive seizures.

“We are committed to ensuring we resume the service providing appointments for acute neurological care as soon as possible.”

This news is a further blow for the trust, who made the unprecedented decision in August to close Grantham A&E overnight between 6.30pm and 9am.

The A&E department will remain closed until at least February 2017.

Trust bosses have said that they remain committed to the A&E fully opening, but only when it is safe to do so.

However, the decision has been strongly criticised, with two protest marches held in Grantham and Lincolnshire county councillors referring the closure to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.