Heavily pregnant women could be among cases sent to hospital via air ambulance under some of the proposals by the counties health leaders.
The suggestion comes after United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust put forward its proposals for emergency care and women and children services which could see them consolidated under one roof.
Under two of the options revealed to Lincolnshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee by the trust on Wednesday, cases could be taken to either Pilgrim Hospital or Lincoln County.
It would mean all consultant-led birthing procedures such as caesarians, will go to one site, leaving midwives at the other dealing only with low-risk and home births.
Speaking to The Standard following the meeting, deputy director of operations at ULHT Tina White responded to concerns over the distances people, including mums-to-be and specialist emergency cases could have to travel to be treated.
“We have to be good around national standards around travel and the risk of that increased travel time, so we have to be aware of work within those guidelines and standards. The national standard is 60 minutes for maternity,” she said.
She accepted, however. that traffic and the highways infrastructure around parts of the county could be difficult. She said: “We do have to look at that. When you are local, you realise how long it can take you to get to different sites, and we have all allocated an hour for journeys and found it’s not long enough, but you have got to make considerations.
“There are other methods of travel, we don’t know, other services we’d need to consider. If the option was chosen for travel and we were not getting consultant-led services on-site, it would have a serious impact on current EMAS (East Midlands Ambulance Service) services, so they would need to be on board and we would have to to have a fall-back position on air ambulance.”
She was keen to point out that no one option had been chosen to go forward yet and that ULHT had put forward these choices to go into Lincolnshire Health and Care’s consultation on the future of all health services across the county. She confirmed that no emergency rooms would lose anything under the proposals, and said they would be ‘augmented’ and improved to work ‘more effectively’.
However, specialist centres would benefit from expert staff in areas such as cardiology, neurology and vascular services.
She added: “It’s not just about equipment, it’s about people and knowledge. They would be able to deal with a real high-end small amount of emergencies.
“All sites stand to gain something, we would stand to gain some upgrades to the department.”
Those with complex, head or serious injuries would still go to ‘tertiary’ hospitals such as Nottingham or Sheffield.
A spokesman for LHAC said: “The LHAC team is still working with clinical experts and front line staff to progress the concept of a modernised, sustainable and patient-focused health and care model for Lincolnshire.
“It has always been our intention to present the public with a joined up plan but one in which various options would be available – with the community having the opportunity to shape the way services are delivered.”
He said any proposals ULHT make will be fed into the overarching LHAC process and will then be analysed and assessed before being included in the full proposals, which are expected to be unveiled at the end of the summer.