It has been reported that the Accident and Emergency Department at Lincoln County Hospital is “struggling to provide a full service”.
Dr Kapadia, medical director at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) has advised that the Trust is implementing steps to change their medical model, as the supply of doctors is “drying up”.
“This means doctors from other specialities will be asked to support A&E senior decision makers to diagnose and treat medical and surgical patients who come through the doors.”
“We are overly reliant on short and long term agency doctors to fill staff rotas. Due to a recent change in national tax rules (known as IR35), the availability of agency doctors has drastically reduced.”
The A & E Department at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston has also been affected, but to “a lesser extent”, ULHT has said.
Dr Kapadia warned people to “stay away unless they need emergency health treatment”. Instead seek non-emergency medical advice from their G.P., local walk-in clinic, or the NHS 111 telephone service.
The statement follows the night time closure of the Accident and Emergency Department of Grantham and District Hospital, which was implemented in August last year. This was a controversial decision with the ultimate aim of maintaining safe staffing levels at Lincoln County Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital, both of which take a higher number of patients.
ULHT employs about 17 doctors across its three sites in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham. ULHT needs a minimum of 21 to keep all of them open for 24 hours, however the Trust has admitted to “struggling to fill rotas” over the next few weeks for the reasons outlined above.
This “critical incident” is obviously concerning to local residents and Trust staff members alike.
Hospital staff owe a duty of care to all patients. Whilst the staff shortage presents major distress, it is of some comfort that the Trust has acknowledged this and is working towards ensuring high levels of patient care can be upheld.