I have recently been advised by health workers that the future of accident & emergency services at Grantham Hospital is under threat as it is to be downgraded to a minor injuries unit with work already under way to make the transformation.
This will be one of the biggest attacks on our hospital services if true and must be challenged. Attempts to get official clarification of plans have so far met a brick wall although I have been advised that no final decision has yet been made.
The most recent downgrading exercise by South West Lincs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) resulted in our maternity unit closure. East Midlands Ambulance Service crews were also instructed that Grantham A&E can only take in emergency patients with specific conditions. All other emergency patients must be referred to other A&E units, which may include Nottingham QMC.
This policy not only causes extended suffering and delay to local residents but may also give a false picture of the level of real demand for local A&E services. I have asked if the number of patients diverted are being monitored and deaths in transit to see what impact this decision had.
Having spent five hours waiting in the understaffed Lincoln Hospital A&E unit recently, and having travelled an hour to get there, the proposal to centralise emergency services seems misguided and unfair.
We have our own car and could get home at 6.30am when released, but how would patients unable to drive or on a low income cope?
Our stretched EMAS A&E ambulance crews are already heavily reliant on first responder teams and are being forced to travel relentlessly back and forth across our county, and beyond, whilst fighting to keep seriously ill patients stable or supporting women in labour.
As a local councillor and chair of SOS Grantham Hospital I have put concerns regarding patient risk, our increasing population, distance from other A&E units and poor public transport network to the appropriate parties.
Councillors at Lincolnshire County Council are to have a presentation on the future of acute hospital services on April 21. I have been advised my comments will be addressed.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate Barrie Fairbairn has also submitted a Freedom of Information request on our behalf to find out more.
There are other issues. I have also been advised that Ward 6 is currently open with no funding, ULHT have already lost ear nose and throat outpatient services to another provider and the CCU is at risk.
This does not feel like our NHS is safe to me.