People in the Horncastle area have been warned to expect major changes to the way health and social care services are delivered.
It follows the publication of a damning report by a local NHS organisation which showed the provision of health and social care across the county is being stretched to breaking point because of a mounting cash crisis.
The report – by the Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) organisation – revealed the county is spending £60m a year more than it receives in income for health and care provision.
And the organisation warns that overspend could increase to £300m a year by 2021, unless action is taken.
The report found that services across the country were ‘struggling to deliver consistent, high quality care.’
Among a catalogue of concerns, it confirmed A&E departments are struggling to cope with the number of people attending.
The report also reveals that many key medical posts are unfilled.
There is also confirmation of the crisis facing GP practices across the county, as exclusively revealed in the News last month.
The NHS recommends a ratio of one GP per 1,750 patients but the figure in some areas is 1-2404. The LAHC – a partnership of 13 organisations – says throwing more funding at services – and recruitment – will not solve many of the problems.
The organisation admits the position is likely to get worse with more people living beyond the age of 75. They will require additional care, putting even more strain on services and resources.
The LAHC does suggest savings could be made by bringing some services together onto one single site.
That proposal could, for example, mean all consultant-led maternity services being transferred to Lincoln County Hospital with the unit at Boston Pilgrim Hospital being just midwife led.
Many of the changes could mean people in rural areas - like Horncastle, Woodhall Spa and Coningsby – would face longer journeys for treatment and appointments.
Other recommendations in the report include calls for more care to be provided outside hospitals and better communication between the organisations.
Dr Sunil Hindocha, chief clinical officer at Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “What we know is if we carry on doing things in the manner we are, then Lincolnshire’s healthcare system is simply not sustainable. It is clear we are not getting the best for the population.”
The report will form the basis of a public consultation later in the year.