Campaigners against plans to downgrade children’s services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital have been left disgruntled by a decision to relocate a vital meeting on its future.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals’ Trust’s next meeting to discuss a new model of children’s services for the Boston hospital is taking place on Friday, July 27.
Members of the executive board at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust recently voted through plans to maintain paediatric and maternity services at Pilgrim Hospital after August 1. However, high risk pregnancies and seriously ill children will be transferred to other hospitals.
A series of meetings have been held by the trust in Sleaford, but the next meeting has been scheduled to take place at Lincoln County Hospital.
It was initially due to take place at 9.15am but has since been moved to 11am after campaigners complained the early start time would be too difficult for those who use public transport.
Emma Wilcock, SOS Pilgrim campaigner, said: “It’s great that they’ve pushed back the meeting time.
“What they have done with moving the meeting location is proven our main concern at the fact that public transport to Lincoln isn’t great from Boston, Spalding or Skegness.
“If you have an appointment before 10.30am then you’re likely not going to make it. The same goes the other way.
“People are still at risk not getting there in time as it’s still around a 30-40 minute walk to the hospital from the bus/train station and at the meeting two months ago people were turned away because the room was already full. We risk being turned away if we are not on time. Also, worryingly, we’ve spoken to Lincoln County Hospital and they’ve already confirmed that the room is a little on the small side.
“They are being obstructive to Boston, Spalding and Skegness residents and campaigners. To have this meeting in Lincoln, after the recent Boston Borough Council vote of no confidence and the fact that this meeting is in the local public’s interest, just defies belief.
“To say we feel disgruntled is an understatement. Sleaford has been deemed acceptable for the last 17 monthly meetings, so why change to Lincoln, especially given the main topic to be discussed at the meeting?”
Officials at United Lincolnshire Hospitals’ Trust said there was no option but to change the venue.
A spokesman said: “The change of venue is as a result of our long standing room booking in Sleaford unfortunately no longer being available to us at relatively short notice.
“We did attempt to find another suitable venue in Sleaford which could accommodate the meeting and members of the public and media wishing to attend, however on this occasion and with this short notice it was not possible within the constraints we are obliged to operate within.
“As a result we reluctantly had to make the decision to bring the meeting back to one of our hospital sites. We recognise that this is not ideal as none of our rooms were intended to hold such large numbers along with a board sized table but the Lincoln boardroom can accommodate the meeting and was available on that date.
“We do appreciate that this venue may present a greater challenge for those travelling to the meeting and so we are revising the start time for the meeting to 11am. We hope that this will allow those travelling the extra time needed to get to Lincoln.
“We would just add that whilst the Trust always welcome the attendance of members of the public to its Trust Board, these meetings whilst held in public are not public meetings and the chair does need to be mindful of also allowing the Board to discharge its duties and address the rest of the day’s business.”