Campaigners fighting for Grantham Hospital say they fear for the future of services there after it was put into financial special measures.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is facing a worsening deficit. As a result NHS Improvement will now appoint a director who will work with the Trust on a recovery plan.
ULHT deputy chief executive Kevin Turner said: “The first quarter results show the extent of the financial challenge facing the NHS at the moment. However, our own financial position has deteriorated this year,
compared with last, to a point that we face one of the biggest financial challenges in the NHS. We therefore welcome the additional support from NHSI to help us to tackle our deficit and move towards a sustainable position for our services.”
But campaigners say they are concerned that the move into special measures could lead to a further downgrading of services. Sarah Stock, of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire said: “Very ‘convenient’ timing, seeing as these financial special measures will now force through their plans to downgrade and close services across Lincolnshire with NO public consultation requirements, due to the nature of the financial ‘special measures....funny how they were in £56 million debt in January and have seemingly gone into special measures for only £31 million. The £56 million debt was discussed and documented previously, so why are they only going into special measures now?
“They really need to start being more open and honest with the public and stop plucking these figures out of thin air. It’s all an ‘engineered’ shambles and I hold every decision maker into account for dismantling our health services in rural Lincolnshire. Local MPs need to take the many voices of their constituents back to parliament, like they are paid to do, but that would go against the national directive to asset strip and privatise our NHS.”
Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, said: “The news that United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust is in financial special measures will be of little surprise to hospital campaigners who noted the poor rating the management team received from the Care Quality Commission this Spring. There are two under lying issues which have created a ‘perfect storm’.
“Firstly the underfunding of NHS services nationally. These hit rural areas like Lincolnshire badly as we already received less budget per person than other parts of the country before measures to further reduce our budget. This would make the job of running our hospitals harder. Sometimes to make future savings investment rather than cuts are initially needed.
“Secondly campaigners, residents and the CQC have serious concerns over how well ULHT is led. For example, campaigners are aware of issues over staff management and staff retention. This would increase recruitment costs, make it harder to recruit and increase the reliance on costly agency staff. Our hospital staff deserve better than a half hour lunch break on a 13 hour shift. Grantham staff had on site creche facilities as they do in Lincoln before ULHT took them away despite warnings this could affect staff retention.
“A further yet more concerning example is the revelation that there are fire safety concerns at the trust hospital buildings which have been left unaddressed for years. For example, Grantham has had two fires relating to electrical wiring in as many years. Transparency over the scale of the issues and how they are being addressed, including how fire safety and repairs will be funded, is needed if we are to believe the trust’s reassurances over the safety of our hospitals.
“In the meanwhile the trust has wasted money on pet projects such as revamping Grantham A&E entrance whilst delivering a reduced service at night. A number of board members have left, or plan to leave. There was a vote of no confidence in the former chief medical officer which appears to have been largely shrugged off.
“The special measures should be a wake-up call to trust members and the government. There is a risk patient services and staff will bare the brunt as tighter measures are put in place, yet more investment and better management would have avoided this appalling situation occurring.”
Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital: “I am very disappointed to hear that United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust are in Financial Special Measures. Our concerns are, that once again, it will be the Grantham community that will lose out.
“I would like assurances from the Trust, that whatever KPMG suggest with their involvement, that this will not impact on the solutions being proposed for Grantham A&E and that they will be swift in coming forward with details. The people of Grantham, have been more than patient. It is unacceptable for us to be left for a year with no overnight local access, without a reasonable explanation as to what they are doing to address this.
Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital will not stop until we have safe local 24hr provision.”