NHS trust wants to restore full children's and maternity services at Boston's Pilgrim Hospital
NHS bosses insist they aim to restore full maternity and children’s services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital despite having contingency plans to centralise them at Lincoln.
The contingency plans are mentioned in a United Lincolnshire Health Trust (ULHT) report to the Health Scrutiny Committee.
Some maternity and children’s services at Pilgrim were scaled back in August.
ULHT medical director Dr Neill Hepburn explained: “During the first 12 weeks of the interim service model (August 6 – October 31), 674 patients have been seen in the Paediatric Assessment Unit, with 99 children transferred to other hospitals.
“This figure is significantly less than we had anticipated. All transfers were undertaken using the private ambulances commissioned by the trust and no issues were experienced or reported, although we understand that the transfers of patients will have caused disruption to those patients and their families.
“In addition, there have been six in-utero transfers of pregnant ladies, making a total of 105 transfers overall.
“The interim model sees 98 per cent of activity remaining at Pilgrim Hospital. The decision was made to move to the interim model because of a shortage of middle grade doctors.
“Although we have had some recruitment success we do not have enough middle grade doctors to restore a full service. We do not know how long the interim model will be in place, but we intend to reinstate a full service as soon as we can recruit enough staff.
“The trust has a duty of care to have contingency plans in place in the event of a worst case scenario for all of its services. Because of the staffing pressures on maternity and child health at Pilgrim Hospital these plans have been reviewed to ensure they are appropriate.
“There is no suggestion that we will need to implement the contingency plan, but we have a duty of care to make sure we have one in place.”
Emma Wilcock, from the campaign group SoS Pilgrim - Call to Action, believes some transfers to other hospitals would be avoided if the current 12-hour assessment time-limit for paediatrics was extended.
She said: "Of the 99 transfers that have occurred, we have seen Boston families transferred to neighbouring hospitals in Peterborough and Grimsby due to Lincoln being at capacity."
Emma said there will be a "listening event" in Spalding in the new year when parents can speak to her group and a trust official.