Campaigners: ‘The NHS has a black hole - and it’s East Lindsey!’

Louth County Hospital

Louth County Hospital

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Campaigners battling to save Louth’s hospital from potential closure have warned that time is running out - and that new volunteers will be more than welcome.

The ‘Fighting 4 Louth Hospital’ campaign held its most recent public meeting at The Hospital Club in High Holme Road last Wednesday evening (April 26), where an assembly of around 30 people turned up to find out how they could support the bid to save the town’s hospital from potential closure.

As previously reported, concerns over the hospital’s future have risen following the publication of the NHS’s ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP) for Lincolnshire in December last year, which states the apparent need for ‘re-provision of community facilities at Louth and Skegness with single site’.

Julie Speed, the founder of Fighting 4 Louth Hospital, told campaigners that she had been informed that some services had been lost or downgraded, particularly since the hospital was transformed from an ‘acute hospital’ into a ‘community hospital’ in 2010.

Ms Speed concluded: “There is a 1,000 square mile black hole in the NHS, and it’s called East Lindsey.”

A spokesman from Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust later confirmed that some services which were mentioned during the meeting - such as cardiology care - were no longer available in Louth since it ceased to be an ‘acute’ hospital.

During the meeting, Ms Speed also stated that orthopaedic surgery had been stopped at Louth’s hospital.

A spokesman from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed this was the case for a few weeks recently due to ‘staffing shortages’, but added that the issue has since been resolved and is now running normally again.

Ms Speed also informed campaigners that, at a recent HealthWatch meeting in Sleaford, she was informed that the public consultation on the STP proposals has been postponed ‘for the foreseeable future’ due to the upcoming elections - and feared that some proposals may quietly be implemented in the meantime.

However, Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) maintains that ‘no final decisions’ will be made until a full public consultation has taken place.

• The campaigners also discussed how the issue could be brought to greater public attention. See next week’s Leader for more.