‘Hospital’s future is bleak without better funding’

Former chairman of the hospitals trust David Bowles is warning of a bleak future for Grantham Hospital.
Former chairman of the hospitals trust David Bowles is warning of a bleak future for Grantham Hospital.
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THE FORMER chairman of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has issued a stark warning about the future of Grantham Hospital if funding is not improved.

David Bowles, who quit the trust in July 2009 after a disagreement over targets, said the current board are not to blame for the financial crisis - a predicted deficit of £14m by April.

He said: “Too little money comes into Lincolnshire for the NHS, it is grossly underfunded.

“Until politicians stand up and fight to correct this, in my opinion, it will only get worse.”

Mr Bowles, who believes the trust needs £70m more per year to function appropriately, said the increased cost of running three relatively small rural hospitals is not taken into account by the Government funding.

He said: “If things do not change hospitals like Grantham will become unviable and at some stage something dramatic will happen.

“Grantham has superb staff and facilities but it’s difficult to see how it can continue in its present form. It’s pretty bleak I’m afraid.”

Mr Bowles said the under-funding of the county’s NHS started a long time before he started working for the NHS in 2006.

He said sometimes hospitals in urban areas get paid twice as much as for the same procedures. And this under-funding makes it difficult to attract staff to the hospitals, which leads to the use of expensive agency staff.

Mr Bowles predicts that if the funding stays the same the trust will have to be broken up or privatised.

He said: “You can change the board again, change the chief executive, but it’s like shifting deckchairs around on the Titanic. The problems will keep happening. It would be a great shame if the hospitals lost services because the funding system is so unfair. Patients will suffer.”

The Department of Health was asked for its view on the funding situation at Grantham but did not respond.