A public consultation is now under way in northern Lincolnshire with people invited to share their thoughts on a proposed change to the way some services are provided at Scunthorpe General Hospital and Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.
The 14-week consultation is being led by NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB).
The local NHS wants to provide some hospital services from Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, rather than across two hospital sites.
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG) and the ICB say this will "improve services for those with the most urgent and complex needs, keeping them safe and of high quality in the long term".
The proposal being put forward relates specifically to:-
- Trauma Unit – for people with injuries requiring specialist care (typically brought by ambulance) and who might need an operation or observation by a trauma team
- Overnight emergency surgery – for people who need an operation in the middle of the night or who need to stay in hospital overnight and be looked after by teams with surgical expertise
- Some medical specialities (inpatient) – for people who need a longer stay in hospital (more than 72 hours) and to be looked after by a specialist team for their heart, lung or stomach condition
- Paediatric overnight (inpatient) care – for children and young people who need to stay in hospital for more than 24 hours
Urgent and emergency care for most patients would continue to be provided at both hospitals, including 24/7 Accident and Emergency Departments.
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB is keen for everyone living or working in Scunthorpe, Goole, Grimsby and surrounding areas to have their say on the proposed change before a final decision is taken by the ICB Board in 2024.
ICB North Lincolnshire Director, Alex Seale, said: "We want to give people the very best care, in the best place, when they need it. However, we face difficulties attracting and keeping enough doctors, nurses and specialist staff with the right skills and expertise. This means some specialists (that cover particular health needs) are not available every day, because they are spread across multiple hospital sites. We also rely too heavily on temporary staff to fill the gaps, which is both costly and inefficient.
"Despite our best efforts, we have to acknowledge that in some cases patients are waiting too long for expert emergency diagnosis and treatment. And without change, some services will become unsafe and unsustainable in the future.
"The proposal we are now putting in front of residents is the result of lots of engagement and conversations – more than 12,000 people have already been involved in helping us to come up with these ideas.
"And even though we are only consulting on a single option, we are certainly not approaching this process with a closed mind, far from it; it is entirely possible that during consultation feedback might be received which will change the proposal or how it is implemented.
"We are absolutely committed to ensuring everyone has an opportunity to have their say, and listening carefully to the consultation responses before any final decisions are taken."
Kate Wood, Chief Medical Officer at NLaG added: "We believe the changes we are putting forward will improve the quality of urgent and emergency care, trauma, and inpatient paediatric care for people in northern Lincolnshire and ensure patients have access to the most highly skilled professionals when needed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"If the changes are implemented, we believe we can organise our teams more effectively so we can tackle the critical shortages in our workforce and improve training and development opportunities."
The public consultation will run until January 5, 2024.
Three drop-in consultation sessions will be held next month in Goole (12 October), Grimsby (16 October) and Scunthorpe (20 October). These will be well publicised in advance. There will be an online deliberative event on Wednesday 6 December and NHS teams will also be visiting a range of community venues across the area throughout the consultation period.
People can also visit the consultation website at www.betterhospitalshumber.nhs.uk to find out more about the proposal, full details of the consultation events and provide their feedback