Louth town councillors gave their unanimous backing to a motion in support of the town’s hospital last week - but only after making a series of major amendments.
The motion, put forward by Coun Ros Jackson at the extraordinary town council meeting last Tuesday evening (October 9), was originally worded as follows. This Council notes that:
A) The Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has consulted on changing the provision at County Hospital, Louth on Manby and Carlton wards, and the options are between 16 beds plus 6 chairs; or 20 beds plus 6 chairs.
B) East Lindsey’s Local Plan mandates minimum house building for Louth of 1,204 homes, and an overall district-wide housing requirement of 7,819 homes for the period 2017-2031. This growing local population will need increasing health infrastructure and jobs.
C) The significant transport difficulties due to East Lindsey’s rurality, and the burden placed on residents who will have to travel further when hospital provision is reduced, with particular focus on the negative effect on vulnerable and/or economically disadvantaged residents.
D) The diminished resources available to neighbouring health trusts, and for care in the community.
This Council resolves to:
A) Recognise that the reduction from 50 beds at Manby and Carlton wards to 20 or 16 is a downgrade in local hospital provision that won’t be sufficiently mitigated by the proposed changes to Neighbourhood Working.
B) Call on the Government and the Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins to prevent the loss of these beds, and to fund the NHS adequately, so that Louth Hospital is under no threat of downgrading.
C) Communicate our deep concern about the downgrading of provision at the hospital to Lincolnshire East CCG and to the County Council.
However, fellow town councillors proposed and passed several amendments to the wording of the motion during the 90-minute debate that followed, particularly with regards to removing the term ‘downgrade’, and making clear that the CCG had so far only had ‘engaged’ - rather than formally ‘consulted’ - with the public.
Coun Pauline Watson said that patient beds were based on ‘supply and demand’, and claimed there had not been any demand for a return to a higher number of patient beds in Manby and Carlton wards following their ‘temporary’ reduction last summer.
She said focusing on bed numbers is a ‘red herring’, and that the CCG is simply proposing a ‘new way of working’.
Coun Jason Garrett supported the original motion in its entirety, and said: “Whichever way anyone wants to butter this up, this is a downgrade of our hospital.
“It is a reduction in beds. The (hospital) staff that came to this meeting when the CCG were here all said that they needed those 50 beds, and said they also need the seats.
“That hospital used to hold 200 beds, where are they now? That hospital used to be full, why is it half empty?
“Because services have been lost, shipped out and moved around the county to other hospitals which are now under threat of a loss of services themselves.”
Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders suggested the term ‘downgrade’ should not be used as it could put off prospective hospital staff members from Louth and, with agreement from a majority of councillors, this term was removed.
Councillors went through each section of Coun Jackson’s motion and made amendments, with some bullet points removed altogether.
The final wording was: This Council notes that:
A) The Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group has engaged on changing the provision at County Hospital, Louth, on Manby and Carlton wards, and the options are between 16 beds plus 6 chairs; or 20 beds plus 6 chairs.
B) East Lindsey’s Local Plan mandates minimum house building for Louth of 1,204 homes, and an overall district- wide housing requirement of 7,819 homes for the period 2017-2031. This growing local population will need increasing health infrastructure and jobs.
C) The significant transport difficulties due to East Lindsey’s rurality, and the burden placed on residents who will have to travel further should hospital provision be reduced.
D) [Removed entirely].
This Council resolves to:
A) Recognise that the reduction from 50 beds prior to the fire inspection at Manby and Carlton wards, now reduced to 20 or 16, is a decrease in local hospital bed provision that should only be introduced when there is adequate Neighbourhood Working and social care.
B) [Removed entirely].
C) Communicate our support for Louth Hospital and continued services in both outpatient and inpatient departments and build on this.
In the recorded vote that followed, the motion was supported unanimously.
After the meeting, Coun Jackson said: “It was an absolute farce. There were only 15 of 20 councillors present, with most of the votes split eight to six (the chair doesn’t usually vote unless it’s split evenly).
“They went through every line and reworded it to take out the contentious parts.
“Apparently, some councillors couldn’t agree that the bed reduction is a downgrade. They couldn’t agree that we should call on the Government and our MP to prevent the loss of these beds and fund the NHS adequately.
“The difference between what was eventually passed and my original motion was vast.”
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