Lincolnshire

Local Democracy Weekly: Diagnosis downgrade for county’s hospitals

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Isn’t it annoying when patients are forced to explain the same story to new doctors all over again, as they’re passed from pillar-to-post?

Well, it looks like residents and campaigners are going to have to do just that. Yet another “public engagement” (NOT a consultation) is to take place over NHS hospital services in Lincolnshire.

And the hypochondriacs among us may be forgiven for thinking the prognosis looks grim.

During the launch of “Healthy Conversations 2019”, which is set to go on until Autumn, at which point the consultations will start (is it time for a DNR yet?), many campaigners’ fears were realised.

Grantham will not get its A&E back in its original form before it closed overnight in 2016 – instead, it will be be downgraded (or ‘upgraded’ if you’re from the health trusts) to an Urgent Treatment Centre.

What’s that? According to the trusts’ information packs, it’s a “facility you can go to if you need urgent medical attention but it’s not a life-threatening situation”.

Urgent Treatment Centres are required to be open 12-hours-a-day but health bosses say this one will be 24/7. They are also mainly 111-led, but will have “some” walk-in hours.

Campaigners in Grantham were obviously downbeat, but said it wasn’t unexpected. They’re hoping a new hospital could solve a lot of the financial issues – but again the symptoms so far don’t look good.

In Louth, where a new UTC is also set to be opened, campaigners were even more vigorous in their statements saying the move “undermined the value of GPs”.

In Boston, there was mixed news. Pilgrim Hospital will keep its consultant-led services, and even possibly get a maternity-led unit added to the mix. However, there won’t yet be a return to full inpatient children’s ward with the paediatric assessment unit staying in place for now.

There’s going to be a bigger focus on self-care – helping you to make sure you are healthy so you don’t clog up the health care system.

Also, the services will be looking to get the county’s 85 GP practices to work together better, as well as trying to ensure fewer mental health patients are going through A&E departments.

Aside from this, there will be greater focus on integrated community services, going out to people’s homes and treating them there.

For now though, it looks like campaigners are going to have to say “AAAAAAAAHHHHH” a little while longer. — DANIEL JAINES


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