Grantham Journal column: Some form of 24-hour urgent care centre is a glimmer of hope

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill
Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill
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Good forward planning is absolutely vital to the successful running of any large organisation.

Unfortunately, it seems to be in short supply at the moment in parts of the NHS in Lincolnshire, with staff shortages, “temporary” service closures and restrictions on referrals to specialists.

We all know that Grantham’s A&E has been one of the victims of this, having been closed since August last year overnight from 6.30pm to 8.30am.

Despite repeated assurances that the situation is only “temporary”, I and other local councillors have been pushing for a solution to be found to re-instate our services.

I’m pleased to say there could now be a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

We’re all hoping that some form of 24-hour urgent care service will be available in the coming months.

This wouldn’t be a permanent solution, with detailed long-term plans yet to be finalised and consulted upon.

Although I don’t believe the short-term plans will give the level of full overnight health provision we previously had – and still want to see – I’m sure most of us would give them a cautious welcome.

Looking beyond this winter, it’s anyone’s guess as to what could happen, which is a big problem. Wherever there’s uncertainty, people understandably fear the worst.

This uncertainty is fuelled by a lack of public trust. When our Health Scrutiny Committee referred Grantham A&E’s overnight closure to the Secretary of State for Health, an independent body assessed the decision-makers.

Although recommending a full review wasn’t necessary, it concluded that local NHS organisations must be more open and honest about the future of healthcare in the county.

I believe the NHS in Lincolnshire is keen to do this, but too much national NHS intervention often prevents them from making local improvements.

I’m sure residents across Lincolnshire, including here in Grantham, will share my frustrations at the slow pace of change to improve our local healthcare services.

I feel that with less interference and red tape from central NHS management, we could achieve more, and more quickly, in Lincolnshire.

Perhaps then, better forward planning could prevent emergency healthcare becoming a crisis.