Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital: ‘We will hold trust to task until A&E is back’

F4GH members Pip Dowse, Jody Clark, Melissa Darcey and Nigel Rivers.

F4GH members Pip Dowse, Jody Clark, Melissa Darcey and Nigel Rivers.

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Protest group Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital (F4GH) says it will increase the pressure on the hospital trust to get A&E back to a 24-hour service.

The group has marches and protests organised locally and in London over the next few months as part of its pressure on United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT)to reopen A&E, which has been closed overnight since August, and to keep services at Grantham.

The overnight closure of the A&E is due to be reconsidered in February.

Jody Clark, of F4GH, says she feels positive that A&E will be open again 24 hours. She told the Journal: “If you look at what has happened in Newark, they had very little opposition to the closure of A&E there and they lost what they had. I think it shows the strength of feeling in the community in Grantham and the district that we are uniting as a major force and we are being persistent and relentless and we will continue to protect as many of our services as we possibly can.

“2017 is the year for campaign groups to step up. I think it’s key that they know we are not going to stop. We are not going to stop, we are not going to quit, we are not going to keep quiet.

“If they don’t reopen A&E in February then they are not going to at all because they will say we clearly can’t recruit so it will have to become an urgent care centre.”

F4GH’s Melissa Darcey said: “The STPs [sustainability and transformation plans] are based on urban areas so closing down A&Es in rural areas cannot be compared in any way to what is happening in urban areas. We are an hour away from Lincoln on unlit country roads.

“The Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth has said in a report over the last few days that the campaigns are working.

“But until that A&E is reopened and we have assurances that we are going to keep emergency care at Grantham so that if we have a heart attack or breathing difficulties we haven’t go to travel an hour to get emergency care. That’s what we want and we will not be quiet until that happens.

“What we really want is for the public consultation to take place before the local elections in May or at least for us to know who will become accountable when Allan Kitt (STP lead) retires in March.”

F4GH will join the ‘Hands off our NHS D-Day’ march in London on January 28. They will join other campaigning groups in a march from Gower Street to Trafalgar Square, where a rally will be held against the STPs – the draft plan for healthcare in Lincolnshire was revealed last month.

Protesters will be going by coach from the hospital at 7.30am. The cost, to be confirmed, is £15 and anybody interested in joining F4GH in London should contact Melissa at melissa.darcey@google
mail.com

The group will be attending a meeting of the health scrutiny committee at Lincolnshire County Council on January 18 and a meeting of LHAC (Lincolnshire Health and Care) at Sleaford New Life Centre on January 25 which will be looking at the options in the STP. The group will be making a static protest outside this meeting and is calling on councillors to ask for an invitation to the meeting by contacting Sarah Furley at sarah.furley@lincolnshireeast.ccg.nhs.uk

F4GH is also arranging another protest march in Grantham for February 25, starting at 11am from St Peter’s Hill to the hospital. A number of speakers are being lined up for the day to speak to marchers at the hospital. Support group SOS Grantham Hospital has said it will take part to give its backing to F4GH.