Hospitals in Lincolnshire declare 'critical incident' amid 'unprecedented' staff shortages

A ‘critical incident’ has been declared at several Lincolnshire hospitals due to ‘extreme and unprecedented’ staff shortages.

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

In a leaked document, the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust told its sites at Lincoln, Grantham, Boston and Louth that it is "unable to maintain safe staffing levels" leading to "compromised care".

The document states: “An internal critical incident was declared across the Trust due to extreme and unprecedented workforce shortages meaning that we are unable to maintain safe staffing levels.

“This is resulting in compromised care across our hospitals, and an inability to maintain a number of key pathways, including those around stroke and cardiac care.”

The Trust is also appealing for staff to volunteer for extra shifts and redeployment of non-clinical workers has begun to help plug the gaps.

According to ULHT, the document was "a confidential staff message" that the Sunday Times shared. However, ULHT has since confirmed to Lincolnshire World that the Trust declared an internal critical incident on Saturday night due to staffing pressures.

The action comes as cases of the Omicrom variant of COVID-19 continue to surge across the county.

On New Year's Eve, a United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust spokesperson told Lincolnshire World they had gone to OPEL Level 4, the new term for what used to be called a Black Alert, due to the number of patients and staff affected by the virus, as well as other pressures.

She said: “In line with pressures on the healthcare system in recent months across the country, we are currently experiencing a period of increased pressure on our services.

“This has been caused by the demand on our emergency departments, bed capacity and staffing pressures. As a Trust, when we experience this level of pressure we have plans in place as an organisation and a Lincolnshire healthcare system to make sure that we are able to continue to provide safe care for our patients.”

"This ensures measures are in place so that the trust can deliver a base level of health care at its four sites in Grantham, Lincoln, Boston and Louth.

Following the latest statement, ULHT Medical Director Dr Colin Farquharson told Lincolnshire World: "“As a result of significant staffing pressures due to absence related to COVID-19, we

are having to take additional steps to maintain services.

"Our staff continue to work exceptionally hard and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that in spite of the challenges faced, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them, so people should continue to come forward for care.

"People can help us to help them by getting their COVID booster vaccine to protect themselves and their families and reduce pressure on health services.”