A 28-year-old woman from Whaplode is taking the stress out of trips to see her consultant - by going local.
Jane Rolfe opted to see orthopaedic consultant Philip Heaton at one of his weekly clinics at Holbeach Hospital.
She said: “I had no idea there was a hospital in Holbeach. It’s been so easy to come here - straight into the car park, which is free, and the staff are really friendly.”
Like Jane, there are many patients who have so idea they can be see a consultant faster and have treatment arranged quicker right on their doorstep.
But if more patients do not use their right to see one of the Pilgrim Hospital-based consultants who have clinics at the charity-run hospital soon, they may lose them altogether.
General surgery and colorectal clinics are the most at risk- and in a hospital that has just had an outstanding report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) it is hard to see exactly why.
Mr Heaton says his NHS clinics are 90 per cent full following a series of evening sessions he has held for GPs to promote the service he gives.
He said: “I always enjoy coming here - it’s nice to drive from Boston and be in a moving flow of traffic.
“Parking here is free and I always get a friendly welcome from the staff.
“Patients have the right to see a patient where they want, but I think many don’t realise that, or they think they won’t get the same standard of care.
“But where the might have to wait four to five months to be seen at Nottingham or Peterborough, here they can be seen within five weeks and be having their surgery.
“I’m a specialist and I am good at what I do and get a good result for the patients and that goes for the other consultants, too.
“We are grateful for the support from some of the area’s GPs, but we need more to help us keep these clinics open – and for patients to use their right to choose.
“The NHS is always looking to save money, but it is more difficult to close clinics when they are full.
“But if they do close it is almost impossible to get them back because that money is used elsewhere.”
Loraine Wigston, Holbeach and East Elloe Hospital Trust: “The community has to start using these clinics or they will lose them.
“It’s sad because we provide such personal care here - and especially after the glowing report we have just had.
“Parking is free too - where else can you go to a hospital and find a parking place easily.
“We never have people moaning if they have to wait a few minutes for their appointments because they know our consultants will give them all the time they need.”
Patients must use their right to choose
Six Boston Pilgrim Hospital-based consultants hold weekly clinics in Holbeach.
Mr M Oko runs ear nose and throat clinics on Tuesdays and Fridays, Mr S Memon has a urology clinic on Mondays, Dr S Hanumara has a paediatric clinic on Tuesdays, Mr J Mohan has a general/vascular surgery clinic on Mondays, general surgery and colorectal clinics are taken by Mr Rathmore on Thursdays and an orthopaedic clinic is run by Mr P Heaton on Wednesdays.
Clinics have been held in Holbeach since the facility ceased being a NHS hospital and part of it became a care home.
Now in its 25th year, trustees are celebrating all the facilities the hospital offers, including day care.
Trustees Karl and Dorothy Ellerbroek hope this will include their clinics for many years to come.
Mr Ellerbroek said: “We are urging patients to ask their GPs to refer them to Holbeach Hospital for consultant appointments.
“A choose and book system is operating from all GP surgeries and gives all patients the right to request the hospital they wish to atttend, providing the appropriate clinic is available there. The clinics are a major reason for us still being called a hospital and are a vital service that we must all do our utmost to retain them.”
Anyone interested in becoming a trustee can email firstname.lastname@example.org