Stroke and breast cancer patients could face further travel

Stroke and some breast cancer services are proposed to be moved from Pilgrim Hospital in Boston to new central hubs in Lincoln due to concerns over staff shortages, reports to a health committee reveal.

It’s despite concerns that some stroke victims would be outside ‘the golden hour’ which refers to the time period receiving treatment would improve some patients’ chances of survival.

University Lincolnshire Hospitals Trusts (ULHT) says that the changes will be better for “95 per cent” of patients in a report to Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.

It outlines that as part of the local NHS’s Healthy Conversation its preferred option is to create a ‘Centre of Excellence’ at Lincoln Hospital.

The report states ULHT expect more than half of patients that currently use Pilgrim Hospital will be sent to Peterborough City Hospital or Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn with the rest being referred to Lincoln.

The ‘golden hour’ refers to stroke patients that receive thrombolysis, one third of which will benefit from the treatment, or five per cent of all combined stroke.

The ULHT report states: “Our clinicians believe their recommendations for stroke services will improve care and outcomes for the overwhelming majority of patients (95 per cent).

“Every patient who uses the county’s stroke service will benefit from a fully staffed centre of excellence delivering exceptional care for improved outcomes and subsequently better aftercare.”

In a separate report to the same committee, ULHT also say 1,151 of its breast cancer patients would have to go elsewhere for services moved to a central Lincoln hub.

In January just 5.5 per cent of those referred to the ULHT with suspected breast cancer in Lincolnshire and 18.4 per cent referred showing symptoms saw a specialist within two weeks. The national standard is for 93 per cent to be seen in that timescale.

A report on the issue to the Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “The model of care across the ULHT hospital sites is inconsistent and does not always comply with the clinical guidelines.

“The reason for this is primarily due to the lack of breast radiologists and wider workforce issues.

“The shortage of breast radiologists is a national issue.”

The report says ULHT is looking to build a new £4.7m centre for breast cancer in Lincoln, though it does not know where funding will come from.

It also says many treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy would still be available at Pilgrim Hospital and through the mobile chemotherapy unit.

The proposals are part of the NHS’s Healthy Conversation 2019 and include looking to upgrade the Johnson Hospital to an Urgent Treatment Centre. A Healthy Conversation engagement event is due to take place at the Spalding United Reformed Church on Thursday, June 13, from 2pm to 7pm.

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