Nuclear medicine service to be reduced to one Lincolnshire hospital

The decision has been taken to concentrate the county’s nuclear medicine service at one hospital instead of three.

Lincoln County Hospital.
Lincoln County Hospital.

The Trust Board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has made the decision following a 14-week public consultation to run the service from just one site at Lincoln County Hospital in the future.

It says this reflects long-running challenges around staffing, ageing equipment and the sustainability of the service.

Nuclear medicine is a specialist imaging technique involving the administration of radioactive substances (called radiopharmaceuticals) in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. At present, around 2,500 patients a year receive these very specialist tests at Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Grantham and District Hospital.

The future of the service was subject to an extensive public consultation exercise, which ran from Monday February 28 to Monday June 6 this year and attracted almost 1,000 responses.

ULHT says this consultation and review was undertaken due to safety and staffing issues within the service, which service leaders felt was unsustainable across three sites, and which would provide greater benefits to patients and resilience if delivered from just one site. The proposal did come in for criticism at consultation events about the further erosion of community services and centralisation making services less accessible.

At a meeting last week, the ULHT Trust Board fully considered the findings of the consultation, as well as subsequent increased staffing challenges within the service, which enabled them to make the final decision.

ULHT Chief Operating Officer Simon Evans said: “Nuclear medicine is a very specialist service that requires specialist expertise and equipment. We have recognised that the service is unsustainable in its current form, and the decision made as a board will enable us to continue to provide a high quality of service to the patients of Lincolnshire.

“We believe that this decision will enable us to continue to provide an effective, robust service to patients, and should even provide us with opportunity to further expand the service and bring new treatments into Lincolnshire.”

A full staff consultation will now be undertaken with affected staff across the service, and a comprehensive implementation plan drawn up to make the change that has been approved and to determine the timescales involved.

For full details, you can view the Public Trust Board paper.