Scunthorpe General Hospital's trauma unit to go to Grimsby, as revised proposals approved by NHS board

Scunthorpe General Hospital
-Credit: (Image: ScunthorpeLive/Donna Clifford)

Scunthorpe trauma unit patients, some overnight emergency surgeries and patients with certain conditions needing a 72 hour+ stay in hospital will now be handled at Grimsby and elsewhere.

The NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) has approved revised proposals from its Humber Acute Services review to pool service elements from Scunthorpe General Hospital to Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby. After thousands of responses during a previous 14-week consultation and united local political opposition in North Lincolnshire, some proposed changes got scrapped.

This included a proposal to move from Scunthorpe care for children needing an overnight stay in hospital to Grimsby. This has been binned. Despite the changes, North Lincolnshire Council leader Cllr Rob Waltham said the proposals going ahead represent "a serious downgrade" of Scunthorpe's hospital.

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He said the council and residents have "been ignored". He has demanded an urgent meeting with the local NHS.

The ICB say that the approved changes will affect seven patients a day. Extrapolated, this works out to around 2,500 patients a year. The local NHS says the proposed changes will help deliver "seven-day consultant-led care" across specialist services, improve the quality of care patients receive and reduce length of hospital stays. It will also make it easier to recruit and retain expert clinical staff, it is contended.

"By and large, the biggest concern people had was around transport and affordability," Linsay Cunningham of NHS Humber Health Partnership told the ICB about the public consultation. The consultation took place from Autumn 2023 to early 2024.

The revised proposals are expected to require a patient a day transfer by ambulance between the two hospital sites, assessed as not expected to have "any significant impact on the performance of emergency ambulance provision", a document states. Around 22 extra visitor journeys per day from the North Lincolnshire area are expected as a result of the change, with four per day reliant on friends, families, community or public transport to get Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby.

Clinical scheduling reviews by the NHS Humber Health Partnership, and a review of the reimbursement travel scheme to make it easier for those eligible by the ICB, are intended to be completed in coming months. Broader work will be taken with local authorities on public transport, too.

The business case for the final proposals says the changes will result in an overall reduction of 60 inpatient beds across Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals site, though Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, will increase its capacity. There is also an expected revenue saving of £4.1m after £9m capital costs to carry out the changes.

In a statement after the ICB's meeting, its executive director of clinical and professional, Dr Nigel Wells, said: "The challenges within the NHS are many and complex and we know for a lot of people the NHS is not working as well as they would like.

"Today's decision will put hospital services like trauma and overnight emergency surgery on a much more sustainable footing and will mean there is seven-day consultant-led care and improved clinical outcomes for people living in northern Lincolnshire. The decision also means we can improve efficiency through consolidation of specialist teams and equipment and provide a more attractive working environment which is really important if we are to improve staff recruitment and retention.

"We recognise this decision won't be universally popular, but given the challenges we face in the NHS, I'm in no doubt it's the right decision."

Cllr Waltham does not take the same view. "These cuts to hospital services means a serious downgrade to Scunthorpe General Hospital with longer journeys for local residents and their loved ones.

"The council, along with many other local residents fought hard against this downgrade during the consultation process and we have frankly been ignored. I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the local NHS to call for them to listen to our views."