County councillors have offered support to Pilgrim Hospital – but warn there must be changes for the better.
At Lincolnshire County Council’s full meeting on Friday, Coun Alison Austin asked members, in particular leader Martin Hill, to offer a statement to United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust following motions by two district councils on the subject.
She said although she realised the authority did not have direct responsibility for the hospital, she thought it could ‘wield considerable influence’. Coun Hill told Coun Austin that the authority had supported Boston ‘in many ways’ and would continue to do so.
He said the councillor was right to stress that the council did not have direct control over health services but added: “It will support the continuation of Boston hospital and the continuation of A&E services there. We are aware there’s a great need and the hospital is currently overcrowded.”
However, he said: “We do not support that ‘nothing can change’ and the way to support hospital services that are safe and sustainable is to make sure things can change such that that can happen.”
Coun Chris Brewis, county councillor for Sutton Elloe, said: “I am vigilant in defending hospital services for the benefit of local people and I am against the removal of acute services from Boston Pilgrim Hospital.
“That doesn’t mean to say that things don’t have to change for the better. I know that GPs and social workers are already working more closely together to relieve pressure on acute services.
“The most important thing is that people have access to safe and sustainable services, near where they live.”
Coun Chris Pain also put a question to Coun Sue Woolley, about the ‘scurrilous rumours being spread about Pilgrim Hospital’, asking her to give reassurances.
Coun Woolley agreed with his use of the word ‘scurrilous’ - saying people could be frightened by reports.
She said the county council had been working with health organisations over the last year and that it would continue to do so to reassure councillors’ commitment to ‘have first class and safe services and for those services to be provided for those living in Boston borough... provided by Boston hospital’.
The news comes after the hospital trust revealed 964 people visited the Pilgrim’s A&E in the first week of December alone. Across the whole trust the figure was 3,041.
Of those, 77 people were at the hospital for more than four hours, with 560 emergency admissions.