A spokesman for the Fighting 4 Louth Hospital campaign has welcomed the recent news about the MRI suite - but said the facility must be properly resourced and must not be ‘farmed out’ to a private healthcare company.
Richard Speed told the Leader: “The provision, made possible by the fundraising of the people of Louth and East Lindsey, of an MRI scanning unit at Louth Hospital, is indeed good news.
“It demonstrates that our local hospital still has a huge role to play in the provision of a properly resourced NHS providing free healthcare at the point of need for our rapidly growing community. (Louth’s population is set to increase massively in the next few years).
“It will provide increased accessibility to an important medical resource resulting in less travel time and inconvenience especially for our scattered rural population.
“We have lost so many services at Louth Hospital, such as cardiology and maternity, and the recent disclosure that the pain management unit is to be put out to tender and will no longer be offering pain relief injections. This means that any new facility provided (although we believe that work is yet to start on the building to house the scanner) is welcome news.”
Mr Speed continued: “However, this new MRI unit will need the full commitment and support of GPs, United Lincolnshire Health Trust, Lincolnshire Community Health Services and Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group (with regard to adequate staffing levels,day to day funding and referrals) to ensure the potential of this local investment is fully realised.
“The question arises that the lack of consultants or medical staff with the appropriate expertise at Louth means that the results of any scan will need to be interpreted at a NHS centre somewhere other than Louth (we believe X-rays taken at our hospital are evaluated in Manchester), which will, of necessity take several days.
“Why have a scan at Louth when almost immediate diagnosis could be made at either Lincoln or Grimsby? If this results in the scanner being under used, will this be used as an excuse in the near future to say the unit is not viable and it to be shipped elsewhere?
“It is important that this new, publicly-resourced MRI unit is staffed by NHS personnel, and not farmed out to a private healthcare company to operate and make a profit from. Neither should it be seen by NHS Property Services as one of their valuable assets to be disposed of when they so desire.”