Grantham Hospital campaigners met with the Shadow Secretary of State for Health yesterday.
Labour MP John Ashworth and Vernon Coker, MP for Gedling, met Grantham Labour Councillor Charmaine Morgan and local Labour Party members at the hospital to discuss the campaign.
Coun Judy Renshaw, a member of the county council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, and Jim Clarke, who is standing as the Labour candidate in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election, also joined the group.
Mr Clarke said: “People from Sleaford rely on Grantham A&E. Without it we are forced to travel 18 miles to Lincoln.”
Coun Renshaw commented on the ‘lack of forward thinking and investment’ at Government level which has resulted in a national shortage of NHS staff. She said: “It takes 10 years to train a doctor and the recruitment issues we face will not be resolved overnight.”
Coun Morgan, who is chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital, highlighted the impact of the A&E closure on local people and EMAS. She said that the Peterborough and Leicester Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) could worsen the situation as more pressure is put on A&E services in the area. She told Mr Ashworth: “We have been fighting for our A&E for over a decade. Never has it been so challenging as unaccountable, unelected bodies have been put in place by the Government to make the decisions affecting the health service we have all paid for.”
She added: “Despite unanimous cross party support for our A&E units, elected authorities have virtually no say. We need to address this. We also need an audit of the current provision of A&E services given recent cuts. Where there are gaps, such as on Lincolnshire’s east coast, we should replace services lost if lives are not to be put further at risk.”
Mr Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said: “I’ve come to Grantham today, not only to support the excellent campaign here, but also to flag that the issues Grantham face are being felt across the country. It is disgraceful that, despite the concerns being raised, Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s autumn budget had no extra funding for the NHS or social care.”
Councillor Morgan added: “During the campaign, SOS Grantham Hospital have captured a number of issues. We have also identified how some improvements could be made to national policy. We’d like to make a positive contribution. If anyone has any positive ideas on how to improve our NHS we can put to Ministers and Health Select Committee they are welcome to contact me by email at email@example.com or call 07398 156296.
SOS Grantham Hospital are making arrangements with Nick Boles’ office for the petition of 42,000 (and growing) signatures to be handed over to Secretary Of State for Health Jeremy Hunt when the STP is released.”