Council unanimously passes motion against Lincolnshire STP hospital closures

Plans to downgrade A&E and maternity services at Lincolnshire’s hospitals as part of the region’s sustainability and transformation plan (STP) have been condemned by the county council.

Lincolnshire County Council unanimously passed a motion condemning plans to downgrade the A&E at Grantham Hospital at a meeting last Friday.

The STP says that A&E services will be replaced by an urgent care centre, although the model is “not yet fully developed”.

The council’s motion stated that the proposals were “completely unacceptable” and would “have a serious and detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of residents”.

It also condemned plans to develop a single maternity team across Lincoln and Boston Pilgrim hospitals (pictured), meaning maternity services will close at Boston.

Intended to deliver integrated health and social care in local areas, the STPs have been accused of being used to drive through hospital closures and excluding local councils.

Mark Lloyd, chair of the LGA, recently predicted that the STPs would “meet opposition” in areas where councils were not involved.

Earlier this year, a PSE investigation found that less than a third of STPs involved their local council in their leadership discussions, adding to concerns that they are NHS-driven rather than based in a partnership between the sectors.

Furthermore, 77% of county council adult social care directors do not believe their STP will deliver sustainable care.

The Lincolnshire County Council motion was introduced by the Conservatives’ Cllr Mark Whittington, with help from another Conservative, Ray Wooten. However, it was seconded by a Labour councillor, Charmaine Morgan.

The motion did express support for some aspects of the STP, such as neighbourhood teams to deliver integrated community care, but also called on all NHS organisations across the country to conduct a full public consultation on the proposals.

Lincolnshire Health and Care, which is charged with delivering the STP, said: “We welcome the fact that councillors have taken the time today to discuss Lincolnshire’s new five year health and care plan called the STP.

“We believe we have a strong and credible plan to transform health care – both improving health and wellbeing and ensuring we can provide high quality services. We are committed to making sure that every pound we spend delivers real value for all the people of Lincolnshire.”

It added that the county council will have a key role to play in leading on some elements of the plan, “for instance how we improve health and wellbeing and how we integrate health and social care provision to provide a better experience for our residents”.

The statement noted that no final decisions had been made on hospital reconfiguration, and that it would carry out “an open and transparent public consultation” in the New Year. However, it warned that it would have to make “difficult choices” because of the “limited resources” available.

The health and social care sectors are suffering from acute funding shortages. Last week, the communities and local government secretary, Sajid Javid, promised to allow councils to raise an extra £900m through a 3% social care precept, but this was dismissed as not sufficient to meet the costs.

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