The board of the trust which runs Grantham Hospital has decided this morning (Tuesday) to extend the opening hours of the A&E department by one hour – keeping the unit closed overnight for the next three months.
In a report to the board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), it was recommended that members approve the proposal to open the A&E department 10-and-a-half hours a day.
The unit is currently open from 9am to 6.30pm and has been closed overnight since August, but the extended opening hours will not come into play until March 27. A&E opening times will be reviewed again in three months’ time.
When ULHT brought in the overnight closures in August, it said it was to to improve patient safety across the county, moving staff to under-resourced hospitals in Lincoln and Boston. This led to a number of protest marches through Grantham and weekly candlelight vigils.
In a report to the board, ULHT medical director Dr Suneil Kapadia said: “When the decision was taken in August to reduce the opening hours of the Grantham A&E, a threshold of a minimum of 21 wte middle grade doctors would be required to safely staff the three A&E departments (Lincoln, Pilgrim and Grantham). This report has demonstrated that although the recruitment drive has led to a gradually improving picture in medical staffing, it will not reach the minimum threshold to open 24/7 by February 17 and remains doubtful for March 2017.
“The provision of emergency services, particularly at Lincoln County Hospital, remains fragile and requires the continued support of A&E medical staff, from Grantham District Hospital on grounds of patient safety.
“Provided medical staffing improves in March it would be possible to allow A&E at Grantham to increase its opening hours to 10.5 hours whilst at the same time continuing to provide support to Lincoln County Hospital. The optimal opening hours based on the discussions at CMB and predicted staffing numbers is 8am to 6.30pm. In order to assess staffing numbers in place as well as facilitate and provide sufficient notice for nursing and medical rotas, it is proposed that the implementation of the new opening hours commence 27th March 2017; provided it is safe to do so.”