Boston

Boston hospital children’s ward looks safe, for now

Health bosses will recommend to continue to run Boston Pilgrim children’s services for now, but with a temporary inpatient closure as a backup.

A paper going before United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust board meeting on Friday, May 25, recommends that more agency staff are recruited in order to cover paediatrics.

An urgent review was sparked by a shortage of middle grade doctors to cover the children’s ward at the hospital.

A previous cancellation of non-urgent surgery has now been lifted.

The trust had previously delayed a decision in order carry out reviews on the impact of the options for the service.

If the recommendations are approved, services will continue in their current form until a long term solution is found.

The proposal is reliant on ULHT finding agency staff to cover children’s services.

The board will also be asked to recommend a plan which would close the inpatients at the service from August 31, 2018, and redirect paediatric emergencies from Boston Pilgrim to other emergency departments, if they can’t fill the staffing gap.

GP referrals for paediatric cases would also be redirected away from Boston and a temporary closure of Obstetrics and Neonatology would also be put in place.

However, the trust previously said that it is already recruiting doctors and has enough staff to cover the ward until the end of July.

A review of the four potential options for Boston’s children’s services to be carried by the East Midlands Clinical Senate is not expected to be published in time for the trust board.

But Dr Neill Hepburn, Medical Director at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said that a decision needs to be made in advance.

“I want to reassure people that no decision has been made and we are working hard to keep children’s and obstetric services at Pilgrim.

“At our May meeting, our board will still debate and discuss the potential options. The board will receive a detailed paper to help make an informed decision. The paper makes a series of recommendations.

“Our preferred option is maintaining current services. But we have a duty to prepare for the worst case scenario so the paper also recommends developing a plan to temporarily move services, allowing us to build in time to make changes if needed.

“This doesn’t mean that services will change in August.

“If the senate report is available in time, our June board will then consider the findings of the Senate’s report and amend decisions or plans accordingly.”

Concerns over the children’s services at the hospital have been raised by local MP, Matt Warman, in the House of Commons.

Mr Warman sought assurances from Prime Minister Theresa May and the Department for Health on staffing levels at the hospital.

Meanwhile, members of the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire told senior ULHT representatives that the options available to the children’s ward lacked detail.