Health bosses delayed making a decision on the future of paediatric services at Boston Pilgrim Hospital until the next board meeting because they need more information on the safety of patients and the impact on other services.
One of the options includes closing the children’s ward temporarily at the hospital from June 4.
Dr Neill Hepburn, medical director at ULHT, said the report presented to the board today was put together quickly to tackle an urgent problem.
“We’ve looked at a number of options and discussed those in detail and the board has asked for a more detailed work up of all the options,” he said.
“They want more detail on how it would affect people both in terms of quality but also for the access for the people affected.
“The paper we presented has been done in quick time because it is an urgent problem and they have given some areas where we need to do some more work.”
ULHT is carrying out a review of the service after concern over severe staffing shortages.
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 has been proposed,
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 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
Healthwatch Lincolnshire said in a statement that staff recruitment is a long standing issue for the trust and added that radical change could be needed.
They said: “It goes without saying that patient safety must always come first and Healthwatch Lincolnshire strongly believes that where a service is potentially unsafe, for instance as in this case we are informed due to insufficient staffing levels, then patients will need to be treated at another hospital.
“However, the impact of this on families is significant, not just in terms of travel times to alternative hospitals but also logistics where there are other children in the family that still need to be cared for.
“Whilst we know that staff recruitment has been an ongoing issue for many of our NHS organisations across Lincolnshire over several years, and we acknowledge that a lot of work has and is being done to recruitment new staff, clearly the recruitment drives are not working.
“Do the people involved in managing our NHS services need to start to question why this is?”