Junior doctors to be withdrawn from Boston Pilgrim paediatrics

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Health Education England have confirmed that they will be withdrawing junior doctors from Boston Pilgrim Hospital’s paediatrics ward.

The education authority had previously raised concerns about the safety of patients and staff at the hospital due to a shortage of staff.

Junior doctors will be withdrawn from the hospital ward in August – their next outlined staff rotation.

The service is currently under review by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

A spokesperson for Health Education England said: “Patient safety and the safe supervision of junior doctors are both of paramount importance to HEE and, following the trust’s confirmation that it could no longer sustain adequate staffing levels in its paediatric section at Boston Hospital, HEE has moved trainees within the trust to protect patients and doctors in training.”

ULHT Chief Executive, Jan Sobieraj, said at a previous trust board meeting that he had made his concerns known to the education authority and that he would monitor future levels of junior staff.

It was decided at the meeting on May 25 to maintain the service as it is while drawing up a contingency plan for the ward.

The children’s ward came under review by ULHT after concerns over severe staffing shortages.

A number of options were proposed for the future of the service, including a temporary closure.

But Dr Neill Hepburn, Medical Director at ULHT, said that the trust is still working to recruit staff for paediatrics.

He said: “The trust has not stated that we cannot maintain adequate staffing levels in paediatric services at Pilgrim, and as underlined in our board meeting last month, we are working hard to recruit staff and no final decision has yet been made.

“We are doing everything we can to maintain children’s services at Pilgrim, in addition to working up temporary proposals to put in place should the staffing situation remain precarious.

“This includes continuing to work closely with HEE to seek further clarity on their intentions for doctors in training, in addition to other health partners and our regulators to ensure we can provide safe, efficient and high quality services and support to our patients and staff.”

The trust is now devising a back up plan for the service in case there is not enough staff to cover the rota on the ward as of August 1.

ULHT said it has had a long-standing shortage of children’s doctors and nurses and has carried out extensive worldwide recruitment, which is ongoing and includes working with agencies and using locum staff to fill shifts.

A contingency plan for the service is expected to be presented to the trust’s next board meeting.