Health Scrutiny Committee supports proposals for paediatric services at Pilgrim Hospital

The Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire has supported proposals by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) for a current model for paediatric services at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston to become a permanent arrangement.

Due to staffing challenges in 2018, a staffing model was adapted from a children’s inpatient ward to a paediatric assessment unit, where children requiring a length of stay longer than twelve hours were often transferred to Lincoln County Hospital. Since 2018, in response to patient and clinician feedback, the model has been developed into one that enables almost every child or young person to receive all of their care at Pilgrim Hospital, without the need to transfer to other hospitals.

As the service has stabilised, ULHT are now seeking to make the current model a permanent arrangement and are consulting with residents and all interested parties on the proposals.

“At today’s meeting, our Health Scrutiny Committee have supported the proposals in the best interests of children and their families in Boston and the surrounding area, as well as Lincolnshire as a whole”, said Councillor Carl Macey, Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire.

“In our reply to the consultation, we are clear that the model of care has benefitted from testing and developments since 2018.

“This now means very few children, usually those with complex or specialist needs, are transferred to other hospitals for their treatment, which was always the case prior to 2018. It’s crucial that the service ensures effective, easily accessible, ongoing support for Boston-area children and their families.”

The Health Scrutiny Committee’s reply to the consultation includes:

It is pleased to see the progress on recruitment in both nursing and medical posts in paediatric services at Pilgrim Hospital and that there are no longer any long-term nursing or medical agency staff at the unit. The Committee suggests that the Trust continues its efforts on recruiting and retaining staff at the paediatric unit.

It has been advised that representatives of the community who use the Pilgrim Hospital have been engaged over the proposals, plus valuable contributions from staff, which has all been helpful in developing the service model. The Committee values both community and staff feedback and suggests this should continue as a source of learning for the service.

It accepts that the number of children and young people transferred from Pilgrim Hospital to other hospitals, either Lincoln County Hospital or other centres outside the county remains small. The Committee suggests that the number of transfers continues to be monitored, as a measure of impact on the local community.

“This service has come a long way since we first looked at it in 2018”, added Cllr Macey.

“Most children can now receive quick access to care, consultants are available until 10pm and the paediatric team has significantly expanded to provide robust support. As a committee, we’ll also want to be comfortable with the engagement of neighbouring health systems in the proposals and further clarification on emergency procedures under the new plans.”

The consultation was launched on June 12 and is due to conclude by 4 September 2023. As part of the consultation process a series of consultation events has been planned, both online and in person at Pilgrim Hospital – for further details visit the ULHT website at www.ulh.nhs.uk/about/have-your-say