Campaign group Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital (F4GH) is preparing for a protest march on Saturday.
Made up of concerned local residents, the campaign group has organised the march in reaction to a decision by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) to close Grantham Hospital’s accident and emergency department between the hours of 6.30pm and 9am for at least three months.
The move is in response to staff shortages at its other two main hospitals, Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim, which it says if not resolved by transferring staff from Grantham will put patient safety at risk.
The march will start at noon on the green outside the Guildhall, on St Peter’s Hill, and will end at Grantham Hospital.
In a press release, F4GH said the trust’s decision is “one more in a long line of service reductions since UHLT took over management of the hospital in 2000 and one which will ultimately put lives at risk”.
F4GH was set up by Jody Clark, a former residential care worker and carer to her two youngest sons, who have ADHD and autism. She says she created the Facebook group the day after ULHT’s announcement “because I knew I wouldn’t be the only resident angry at the closure at night and wanted to share information and exchange ideas as to how we as a community could make our voices heard by ULHT”.
Within 24 hours the group had grown to over 3,000 people and has continued to rise, reaching over 6,000 members within the first week.
The community has rallied in support, with volunteers donating time and services, organising a website, printed materials and banners, as well as attending protest events and getting signatures on the petitions organised by fellow campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital.
Jody said: “It goes to show the level of opposition. The community efforts have made me proud of Grantham. I am overwhelmed at the response so far.”
The community hopes the march will ultimately make ULHT reconsider their closure, and say they are determined to fight on should they outcome go against them.
Jody said: “As a community group, it depends on what the members decide. I would like us to consider taking part in a national protest with the other community NHS support groups at some point in the future. It’s important to show our hardworking and dedicated NHS staff that we will stand up for their rights as we all need the invaluable service they provide.”
Currently, police and local highway authorities are advising that the march follow a route taking them away from the town centre and through parks near the river as opposed to anywhere in the town centre.
F$GH said supporters are incensed by this as they believe authorities are trying to keep the march away from the public eye, resulting in little awareness and support.