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United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust medical director Neill Hepburn apologises for distress caused to 139 families transferred out of Boston Pilgrim Hospital under 'new model'

Health bosses have apologised for the distress caused to 139 families transferred out of Boston Pilgrim Hospital under an interim children’s ward model.

Medical Director Neill Hepburn told United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust board members today (Friday) that since the new model started — which includes a new Paediatric Assessment Unit and enhanced access to accident and emergency — 1,053 children had been treated. They said that for the vast majority, the new system has worked.

He said the average length of stay had reduced from 42 hours to just seven-and-a-half – the aim is to assess within 12 hours.

However, he added: “We must be clear that for those 139 families, it’s been a distressing episode.

“Previously, some of them wouldn’t have all been able to stay at Pilgrim, but there’s a significant number that would have been and we’re sorry for the inconvenience that’s caused them and the inevitable stress and difficulties at home.”

He said, however, overall the model had proven to be a “very successful way of working” and brought the trust into line with best practice across the country.

Pilgrim Hospital (5721994)
Pilgrim Hospital (5721994)

“For the vast majority of children, they are able to be assessed and returned home and we know children do much better at home and that families would prefer that,” he added.

He said the model was considered “safe” and said no harm had been done.

He did, however, add that the initial period had been during a quieter time of the year and said the system would be tested further as demand across the trust rose during the winter months.

He looked to reassure patients the trust was “taking every step within our power to maintain a good service.”

Dr Hepburn also updated members on a report from the Royal College of Paediatricians, which had carried out a full review of the Trust’s service.

He said the report highlighted a need to move away from traditional ways of working but said it was also “very clear services at Pilgrim need to be maintained”.

“They were very clear we needed to make all efforts to maintain a service but they did highlight it’s a different service to the one that’s been there before.”

“It’s reassuring both for me as MD, my colleagues and the public that the national experts have looked at the problem and their recommendations are exactly what we’re doing,” he added.


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