The decision taken by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust to partially close Grantham Hospital A&E is a deplorable and retrograde measure which will result in the residents of Grantham and the surrounding villages being offered a second rate accident and emergency service compared to the rest of the county.
It is especially galling because the staffing issues behind the decision of the ULH board are being faced by Lincoln County and Boston Pilgram, and not Grantham Hospital.
It is Grantham staff who are being re-deployed to fill the gaps elsewhere in the county caused by the failure of the ULH board to manage the staffing requirements of the Trust.
In the past few days since the decision was announced I have been contacted by a number of local residents who are both angry and concerned.
Angry at being treated as second class citizens and concerned about what the future holds for their hospital. I have raised their concerns with members of the ULH board but unfortunately these concerns have not been eased by the responses which I have received.
Readers of the Journal might be aware that currently there is a consultation taking place concerning the provision of healthcare services within the county called the Lincolnshire Health and Care case for change.
On June 29 a draft report was published. One line on page eight of the report causes me particular concern, it states “Our main hospital sites in Grantham, Boston and Lincoln will not all provide the current range of services that they do now.”
Later on the document in reference to the provision of emergency care services refers to the creation of a number of Urgent
Care Centres designed to relieve the burden on A&E services.
The final line of that section reads “We are considering the number of Urgent Care Centres and where these should be located.” I have asked the ULH board whether this refers to the downgrading of Grantham Hospital A&E to become an Urgent Care Centre.
I am still waiting a reply.
My concern is that the current decision to partially close our A&E is a precursor to a downgrading as part of the LHAC review.
If such a downgrading were to take place then this could have a profound impact on a range of other services at Grantham Hospital which are partially dependent upon A&E and the emergency work which it generates such as Theatres, Radiology and Trauma and Orthopaedics.
Any reduction in activity via A&E could threaten the viability of these services. I have again asked the Trust board for an assurance that these services will not be threatened.
This is a grave time for Grantham Hospital and the ULH board have a lot of questions to answer.
Cllr Mark Whittington, Grantham Barrowby