Plans to move vital medical services from Gainsborough to Lincoln hospital are scrapped

Plans that would have led to the loss of thousands of appointments for patients at John Coupland Hospital in Gainsborough have been dropped following a campaign by UNISON.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) proposed moving outpatient appointment services and all the medical secretaries to Lincoln County hospital.

Shifting more than 8,000 appointments each year in the areas of orthopaedics, urology, general surgery, respiratory, diabetes and endocrine, gynaecology, antenatal and many other services would have led to needlessly lengthy journeys for staff and patients, says UNISON.

Many staff would have had no choice but to leave the NHS as they could not travel the 55-mile round trip to work each day, the union says.

John Coupland Hospital, Gainsborough

Elliot Dean, UNISON East Midlands regional organiser, said: “These proposals were extremely damaging to both staff and the local community who rely on the vital services at the John Coupland Hospital.

“Throughout the Covid pandemic, these NHS heroes have worked tirelessly under incredibly difficult circumstances to deliver a range of services. Many staff would have been forced out of a job because they weren’t able to travel to Lincoln every day or simply couldn’t afford to take the proposed drop in pay.

“In the end hospital bosses have made the right decision to drop these plans. Changes to hospital services must be in the best interests of public health but this was nothing more than a cost-cutting exercise, putting spreadsheet economics above the needs of the community.

“Any future proposals need the input of staff and the people using services, with the aim of delivering better healthcare not saving money."

Paul Matthew, director of finance and digital for ULHT, said: “United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is considering changing how we deliver some outpatient services at some of our peripheral sites, although any details of what may change is yet to be decided.

"We will be undertaking a comprehensive public engagement exercise in the near future to help in shaping the future service arrangements.

“Some colleagues on our peripheral sites were put on notice for redeployment, however this process has now been stopped.”