Skegness ‘has a fight on its hands’ to save the town’s hospital from being closed or downgraded to a ‘nursing home’, campaigners fear.
Skegness Hospital Watch believes that moves towards larger, more specialised facilities across the NHS will result in the removal of services from smaller hospitals, some of which could close.
Speaking at the group’s meeting on Thursday, chairman Maureen Mier said: “I think we’ve got a fight on our hands for Skegness Hospital.”
NHS England’s chief executive Sir David Nicholson recently warned that the service faced ‘really difficult choices’ to cope with financial difficulties, which could see a £30 billion shortfall by 2020.
Among the recommendations are plans to concentrate specialist services in fewer, larger centres.
Although evidence suggests that specialist centres are more effective in treating certain conditions, such as strokes, heart attacks and a variety of operations, the move could threaten smaller hospitals such as Skegness.
Coun Colin Davie told the meeting that hospitals such as Peterborough, built using borrowed money through the Public Finance Initiative faced crippling interest repayments of around £55 million a year.
To justify such costs, he believes the hospital needs more patients through the door, which again threatens the continuation of smaller facilities in the region.
“I sense there will be another battle to come to protect places like Skegness ,” he said.
“It’s really important that the community understands that - people need to be always vigilant.”
Coun Davie and Mrs Mier were determined for Skegness Hospital to retain its service and not end up as a ‘nursing home’.
“We don’t want hospitals like Skegness or Boston to be reduced to nursing homes - we need to be able to provide service here,” said Mrs Mier.
They called for the community and local councillors to remain vigilant and support Hospital Watch to prevent any downgrading taking place behind the scenes.
Skegness Hospital Matron Jackie Shaw assured the group that Lincolnshire Community Health Services has ‘no intention to close any hospital’.
However Coun Davie warned that unwanted changes are likely amid the proposed solutions to the financial shortfall.
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