Clinicians and managers meet to discuss proposals for future of Lincolnshire healthcare

Ambulances at Grantham Hospital A&E department.
Ambulances at Grantham Hospital A&E department.

A meeting of more than 150 senior clinical leaders, managers and key stakeholders is taking place in Sleaford today to consider a range of proposals to change health services in the county ahead of a public consultation in May.

The meeting will look at a number of proposals for hospital changes covering urgent and emergency care, maternity services, children’s specialist services (paediatrics), learning disability services, planned care services and stroke services.

This event follows on from the work of the Lincolnshire Health and Care Programme (LHAC) to come up with a new model for delivering health and care in the county.

The challenges facing the health and care system in Lincolnshire have been described in detail in the recently published Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which says some clinical services will need to change in the future in response to growing demand from an ageing population.

The A&E department at Grantham Hospital has been closed overnight since August because of a staff crisis at Boston and Lincoln hospitals. The STP says these services struggle to meet safety standards due to the shortage of key staff and proposals have been developed over the last two to three years, including plans to centralise some services and move some other services much closer to home.

Hospital support group SOS Grantham Hospital submitted a document to LHAC before the meeting calling for the full restoration of Grantham A&E services.

Chair of SOS Grantham Hospital Charmaine Morgan said: “We argue throughout the document the need for more A&E services across the county and for the re-opening of our A&E 24/7. We also call for hospital transport to support patients, family members and carers who are required to travel cross-county to access alternative A&Es at night now.”

All health organisations in Lincolnshire are committed to holding a public consultation in 2017 to get the views of residents on proposals for changes to these services. No final decisions will be made until after the public consultation.

Attendees are being asked to consider the detailed evidence for each proposal and look at the impact of the proposal against four criteria – quality, access, affordability and deliverability.

Speaking ahead of the event, Allan Kitt, Chief Officer of South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We have to follow the appropriate process to ensure the proposals we put to the public are fit for purpose. NHS England are clear that proposals can only be put to the public if they are clinically safe and deliverable. Today’s meeting will allow us to gather together those senior clinicians and experts who have helped to develop our proposals, along with key local stakeholders, to look at what is being proposed and take a view on the impact of those proposals.

“There will be some difficult choices to make as we look today at the detailed information for each proposal. What we do know is that some of the proposals will enable us to deliver much better outcomes for our patients. I think we all agree that our residents deserve the very best services we can deliver.”

Following today’s meeting, proposals for public consultation will still need to be reviewed by an independent regional panel of experts and approved by NHS England before the consultation can be launched in May.