A consultation with the public on changes to healthcare in the county has been delayed again and may not happen until next year.
The delay came to light at a meeting of Lincolnshire Healthwatch in Grantham last week, where a number of hospital and health campaign groups attended.
Melissa Darcey, of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, said she was disappointed to hear that the public will have to wait months before it is consulted about changes to healthcare throughout Lincolnshire which are proposed in the controversial Sustainability and Transformation Plan. (STP). It had been hoped consultation would begin in June.
Ms Darcey said she feared that major changes could be made to healthcare without any consultation especially as United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been put back into special measures by the Care Quality Commission.
She said: “We are waiting to see what action will be taken by the external regulator. Changes could be made and we will not have a say.”
Ms Darcey said the county had been left in ‘limbo’ because of special measures and because of the upcoming general election.
She added: “I am a bit miffed about the delay to be honest. They can make changes to the services due to ‘patient safety’ anyway. I will be seeking clarification from John Turner (new STP lead) after the election.”
When the CQC put ULHT back into special measures it also said that Grantham Hospital A&E was ‘good’. The A&E was the only part of the hospital which it inspected.
Ms Darcey said it was confirmed to her that the only viable option for Grantham A&E was a 16/8 hour split in which the unit would be run as a consultant-led unit during the day but overnight as a nurse-led unit.
She added: “I have confirmed this with the clinical senate who said that the option for a 24-hour A&E pre-August is not ‘sustainable’ because they have proven they cannot staff it and the option for ‘urgent care centre’ is also apparently not viable. I am trying to gain confirmation on what staff (GP or consultant) will be running the ‘A&E centre’ option. Having a nurse-led unit at night would leave us in the same position we are now so that concerns me and I have said it must be an open door policy if that is the case, where the walking wounded can also enter.”
She added: “There was no clarification on whether they will consult on estates or the sale of land which is worrying. The campaign groups felt that the meeting gave a good opportunity to discuss our concerns but the fight still continues.”
A spokesperson for the STP lead said they could not comment because of purdah, which does snot allow them to comment in the run-up to an election.