Boston

Boston paediatric ward could close due to staff shortages

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The children’s ward at Boston Pilgrim Hospital could be temporarily closed due to severe staff shortages.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is carrying out a review after just 4.5 staff are available out of the 8 required to run the service fully – going down to just one from July.

Closing the inpatient service from June 4 is just one of five temporary options that will go before ULHT’s board meeting on Friday, April 27.

No decision has yet been made on the future of the service.

The option would also see paediatric patients coming into the emergency department at Boston Pilgrim redirected to Lincoln A&E.

However, health bosses have reassured patients that the current service is safe.

Other options going to the board include:

  • Maintaining services as they are.
  • Closing paediatric services from June 4 and retaining consultant led obstetrics and neonatology until July 1 when staffing can no longer support neonatology.
  • Maintain current services including neonatology but stop all planned paediatric operations at both Pilgrim and Lincoln County Hospitals.
  • Providers across the region to cover neonatal services for Pilgrim maternity and neonatology from July 1.

ULHT Chief Executive Jan Sobieraj first announced the review to the Health Scrutiny Panel at Lincolnshire County Council on Wednesday, April 18.

The trust said that it does not have enough middle grade doctors to cover paediatrics in order to ensure a safe service in the coming months.

For children’s services, Pilgrim should have eight middle grade doctors to cover children’s services – currently there are four.

From July 1, the trust forecasts that there will be one middle grade doctor with the rest of the rota covered by temporary staff.

Neill Hepburn, medical director at ULHT, and Michelle Rhodes, director of nursing.

Dr Neill Hepburn, medical director at the trust, said that none of the options going to the trust’s board are preferred.

“The difficulty we have is that we don’t have staff to fill the rotas properly from the beginning of June,” he said.

“As a management team we need to take action to ensure that if it doesn’t resolve then what would we do and we’ve got a number of options.

“None of these options are palatable, we don’t want to be here and we don’t want to have to face this problem but what we need to do is get it right so the solution is right for the patients.”

Dr Hepburn added that the move has nothing to do with money or the upcoming Lincolnshire STP review.

Meanwhile, director of nursing at ULHT, Michelle Rhodes, apologised for the current situation in paediatrics.

“My message is that I’m really sorry that we are even having to consider this at this point,” she said.

“As a mother, I have a 13-year-old son and I would want him to have the best possible care that he can and I would want to reassure parents that is what we are trying to provide.”