County leaders have expressed concern and disappointment after the trust which runs hospitals in central Lincolnshire was returned to special measures.
Patients have also reacted to the news, many with criticism of hospitals’ leadership as well as praise for staff working on the frontline.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the trust as ‘inadequate’ overall following inspections at Lincoln County Hospital, Boston Pilgrim Hospital and Grantham A&E in October last year.
Inspectors found significant concerns in the safety of emergency services and outpatients’ leadership at Lincoln County Hospital, as well as in medical care and outpatients at Pilgrim Hospital.
Pilgrim Hospital in particular was rated as ‘inadequate’ for failings across multiple assessment levels.
The trust was however praised for its ‘good’ standards of care shown by staff.
The health watchdog’s report, published on Tuesday, April 11, comes just days after Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust re-entered the failure regime for inadequate organisations.
Member of Parliament for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman reached out to staff working on the front line, who he added would be “disappointed” at the report published on Tuesday, April 11.
He also expressed his support for campaigns to create a medical school in the county with the hope to retaining more qualified staff.
He said: “Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital is a vital asset to the east coast, providing services that are often essential and always appreciated.
“I want to thank all the staff in our local NHS, from doctors and nurses to porters and cleaners.
“On my frequent visits to Pilgrim I’ve seen how hard they all work and I know how disappointed they will be to see the trust returning to special measures.
“There are many complex reasons for the move, but the Care Quality Commission was clear that patients are not unsafe. Pilgrim will now receive additional support to make sure that both it and Lincoln provide the improved services local people deserve.
“For my own part, I know how much local people value Pilgrim and want it to thrive.
“I want that too, and as I have been since before I was elected I will continue to fight to make sure the hospital’s services are protected and improved, and that Lincolnshire as a whole gets the investment – and crucially the medical school – that will make such a difference to its future.”
Member of Parliament for Lincoln Karl McCartney has has said the extra support the special measures status will bring the trust is welcome. He also called for more answers to ongoing staffing shortages.
“My constituents and I, and I am sure my fellow members of parliament across Lincolnshire will all be disappointed and concerned by the outcome of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) recent report into the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT).
“Whilst it is reassuring that in a number of areas such as surgery and the culture of caring that our county hospital is rated as good, the issues surrounding Accident & Emergency particularly, show real challenges still remain.”
He added: “I am reassured that the NHS trust has already been acting on the concerns raised by the CQC for some time so no time has been lost.
“The fact there will be extra support from the NHS at a national level is most welcome, however, we also need practical answers at that level regarding the staff shortage issue, which is likely to be somewhat out of the control of the trust itself.”
ULHT previously responded to the report, apologising to patients and praising staff for the improvements already made in the months following the inspection.
Praise for staff
Lincolnshire patients have had varied responses to the publication of the damning report. Many spoke out in praise of the staff on the wards of the county’s hospitals.
Suzanne Roberts added: We went to Lincoln A&E on Sunday. I would like to say that all the staff were brilliant with my little girl.”
Sue Mcgrath said: “I recently had to visit OOH service LCH twice within this last three weeks with my grandson. I could not fault the care and attention given.
“The waiting area includes the A&E department which on both occasions was overwhelmingly busy the nurses and doctors must be under so much pressure, they can only work with what resources they have.
“I am a nurse and I know for a fact the workers on the ground floor are not to blame for these failures, this is a job where you work for 12 hours often without a proper lunch/tea break never get off shift on time and finally get home in a dehydrated state.
“Get rid of the managers and enormous salaries they are not doing their job so sack them.”
Amanda Horton said staff work hard, stating they had been “demoralised” by the new report and media coverage: “The majority of hospital staff along with the ambulance service are working extremely hard, massively under funded, under staffed and with on going ridiculous targets they are expected to achieve and on a daily basis must feel completely demoralised by the press and media coverage of this.
“They miss their own convenience breaks and coffee/food/rest breaks just to care for people. We are already aware the system is at breaking point due to lack of funding. Basic things like clean bedding, morning was bowls etc are in short supply.
“A small number of nurses are looking after a large number of patients due to staff shortage and aim sure under the circumstances from recent experiences they are doing a fantastic job being extremely poorly supported.”