Lincolnshire

Severe staffing shortage sparks urgent review of children’s services in Lincolnshire hospitals

Concerns over staffing levels have lead to a review into children’s paediatric services in Lincolnshire hospitals.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust Chief Executive, Jan Sobieraj, announced the plan to the Health Scrutiny Panel at Lincolnshire County Council today and said there was particular concern at Boston Pilgrim Hospital.

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.

A temporary measure has been put in place to reduce the number of beds at Pilgrim hospital and operations have been temporarily suspended on paediatric patients.

A paper will go to ULHT’s board meeting detailing the options available to ensure safety of patients on April 27.

Karen Brown, chief finance officer, said that patients are currently safe but had concerns.

“We have had some concerns that we have been reviewing over staffing concerns over the next few months with our paediatric services,” she said.

“We are currently working through the options available to us and we will be taking that into a public board meeting.

“It is serious, it relates to the number of doctors available and we absolutely have to ensure our paediatric patients are being cared for effectively.”

Dr Neil Hepburn, medical director at the trust, said that the service does not have enough doctors and nurses to provide care on the ward.

“There is a national shortage of qualified children’s doctors, known as paediatricians, and children’s nurses, and ULHT is severely affected by this. Paediatric doctors and nurses cover children’s wards, A&E, maternity services, and neonatal services,” he said.

“At Pilgrim, currently 56% of middle grade doctor posts are unfilled and 32% of children’s nurses posts are vacant.

“The reality is we don’t always have enough doctors and nurses to provide care on the children’s ward, in A&E, maternity, outpatient clinics, and the neonatal ward 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

He added that the trust is working hard to recruit and that no decision has been yet been made on the service.

“No decision has yet been made on the children’s services. Over the coming days and weeks, we will engage our staff, our commissioners, neighbouring trusts and the people of Lincolnshire on all possibilities,” he said.

ULHT CEO Jan Sobieraj was not available for comment following the meeting.