Louth residents have got to start fighting for the future of the town’s hospital - or else there is a serious risk that it will be lost forever.
That was the stark warning from campaigners at the inaugural ‘Fighting 4 Louth Hospital’ meeting last week, just two weeks after the group was established and amassed more than one thousand supporters online.
Group founder and town councillor Julie Speed was joined by campaigners from the umbrella group ‘Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire’, and around two dozen supporters braved the wet weather to attend the meeting.
Melissa Darcey, from the umbrella campaign group, warned: “If they plan to get rid of Louth Hospital, then they will get rid of Louth Hospital - if we let them.
“It all seems a bit like gloom and doom, but it really is that serious. We need to start doing something about it and start lobbying county councillors and NHS England who make the decisions.”
Ms Darcey added that campaigners needed to ‘communicate with people and educate people’ in order to fight against the perceived apathy that many seem to have towards the issue.
You know the facts. Your local hospital will shut if you do not get out there and fight for it.Melissa Darcey (Campaigner)
She added that national campaigners had warned the National Health Service might not even see its 70th birthday - which will take place in July next year - as a result of funding cuts and health policies.
Julie Speed noted that health services should be expanded and improved due to the difficult combination of an increasing and ageing population with the rural setting and infrastructure.
She said: “On a local level, the campaign starts here.
“What I would like to do is get a leaflet, and get volunteers to go out there and get them through every door in Louth.
“Anything at all that you think you can contribute, no matter how tiny it seems, will all help to make a difference.
“The very basic message is to get the message out there, so that we can get people knowing what’s going on.”
Melissa Darcey concluded: “You need to engage and educate people.
“You know the facts. Your local hospital will shut if you do not get out there and fight for it.
“Get out there and tell people, get more people to join you and get out there en masse.”
Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) has said that no decision has been made yet, and that the proposals in the STP will go out to public consultation in due course.
• The ‘Fighting 4 Louth Hospital’ campaign was established in response to the proposals in Lincolnshire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).
The Plan, which was released by Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) last December, indicates that hospitals in Louth and Skegness could be merged - or that a new hospital could be built somewhere between the two towns. Louth Hospital’s age and running costs (in addition to the potential need for a ‘seasonal service’ for tourists if the site is not in Skegness) have caused additional concerns in Louth.