Health Minister visits Scunthorpe Hospital over proposed changes, as decision pencilled in for July

Scunthorpe General Hospital
Scunthorpe General Hospital -Credit:GrimsbyLive/Donna Clifford

A health minister has visited Scunthorpe General Hospital this week to discuss proposed changes to service elements there.

Under the proposals, which were subject to a several months long consultation, patients currently seen at both Scunthorpe General and Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, for certain service elements would only be seen at Grimsby. The service elements to be only at Grimsby would include emergency overnight surgeries, the trauma unit, patients with heart, lung or stomach problems who may need a more than 72 hours stay in hospital, and children and young people who need a more than 24 hours hospital stay.

Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft previously secured a promise of a visit to Scunthorpe General Hospital by a health minister. Health Minister, Andrew Stephenson, visited on Thursday, but did not comment on the proposals.

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The NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) have made the proposals and will decide whether to proceed with them. It has recently been publicised that the aim is for the ICB board's July 10 meeting to make a decision on recommendations formed following the 14 weeks public consultation that happened in 2023-24.

The proposals were made because of staffing shortages and to ensure seven days a week consultant-led care, and avoid patients waiting longer. NHS modelling in the public consultation suggested approximately five thousand people a year are expected to be affected by the changes. This included almost a thousand children and young people who may need a more than 24 hours hospital stay.

Ms Mumby-Croft has previously vowed to residents to "fight their corner" in opposing the changes. Commenting on the health minister's visit, she said: "I was pleased to welcome the minister to our local hospital so he can see for himself the impact these changes will have on local residents, and he knows exactly how strongly we feel about them here in Scunthorpe.

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"As I’ve said previously, people in Scunthorpe deserve the highest standards of healthcare possible and moving these services to Grimsby, with the added expenses and journey times this will cause, are a step in the wrong direction. Hospital bosses need to take into consideration local people’s views – it’s blatantly obvious to everyone that these changes are not welcome."

Mr Stephenson said after the visit it would not be appropriate to comment on the consultation proposals, as it was a matter for the local NHS. "I am grateful to Scunthorpe’s MP Holly Mumby-Croft for inviting me to Scunthorpe General Hospital. I was pleased to see the Hospital’s paediatrics and other facilities and to meet some of the exceptional staff working there."

He acknowledged the efforts of his fellow Conservative MP Ms Mumby-Croft to raise residents' concerns on the matter. "She is fighting hard for Scunthorpe’s residents and is right to press for the best possible NHS facilities locally."

Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft, NHS staff at Scunthorpe General Hospital, and Health Minister Andrew Stephenson
Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft, NHS staff at Scunthorpe General Hospital, and Health Minister Andrew Stephenson -Credit:Holly Mumby Croft's office

When previously challenged by the local Labour Party on her visibility on the issue, Ms Mumby-Croft cited the health minister visit she had secured, letters written to thousands of households about the issue, and a push to have the public consultation period extended. "It’s important we wait for the NHS bosses’ response," she added.

"However, I want residents to be reassured that I’ll still be backing them, in our bid to retain these vital services." She would "certainly be backing" a possible judicial review of the decision by North Lincolnshire Council, which it has reserved the right to do.

Ms Mumby-Croft said since her election she had "worked consistently to improve health services in the area". She pointed to the future community diagnostics centre, and the relatively recent new A&E department as "huge steps in the right direction".