Concerns over a potential loss of life and the knock-on effect on services have lead to potential plans for healthcare services in Lincolnshire being unanimously rejected by the county’s lead authority.
Lincolnshire County councillors voted against the proposals contained in Lincolnshire Health and Care’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan – which includes an option to centralise consultant-led maternity to Lincoln, with Boston being downgraded.
Different journeys, complications that could arise along those trips up to Lincoln – it’s frightening, I certainly think lives will actually be lost.Coun Mark Whittington, Lincolnshire County Council
There are also options which would see Grantham lose its A&E status and the centralisation of some services between Louth and Skegness.
Coun Mark Whittington called the Boston and Grantham options ‘red line issues’.
“These two proposals will have serious and detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of the residents in the catchment areas of those hospitals and will also have serious knock-on effects on the residents who use, for instance, the catchment area of Lincoln County,” he added
He pointed to the loss of maternity at Grantham – with babies being taken to Boston, Lincoln or Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. He said if Boston was to also lose its neonatal services it could put parents ‘in that very same situation’.
He added: “Different journeys, complications that could arise along those trips up to Lincoln – it’s frightening, I certainly think lives will actually be lost.”
Coun John Hough called on his colleagues to put pressure on MPs in Lincolnshire ‘to recognise that we have real issues for delivering health services across a very large county with a very sparse population.
“We have to make it absolutely clear the kinds of things, they are suggesting, are just not acceptable,” he said.
“We have to have proper funding for the NHS so we can maintain Grantham A&E, Lincoln A&E and Boston A&E.”
Many councillors welcomed positive steps to get public health services and the NHS to work closer together.
However, concerns were also raised about how much this would rely on the county council for staff and finances.
Mr Hough said: “The emphasis is that they’re going to to move care into the community - who is out there delivering care in the community? We are. We’re already struggling, as the leader said, in terms of being able to finance social care.
“If what the NHS is suggesting is that there is going to be acut to their budget and actually rely on the county council to pick up care in the community, we have got to look at this, because clearly it would be the burden on top of what we’re actually providing and is just not sustainable.”
Councillors, on Friday, voted that they would not support the Lincolnshire STP in its current form and confirmed they were prepared to work with all NHS organisations. A second motion reinforced the authority’s ‘major reservations’ about the proposals.
The STP’s radical changes to NHS services across the county are designed to improve patient care and save £130 million by 2021.
Health bosses have previously insisted safety remains at the heart of the proposals.
They said ‘no decisions have been made yet’ and that options would be tabled for public consultation next year.