About 30 protesters attended yesterday’s hospital trust board meeting to protest over the closure of Grantham A&E overnight.
Members of the public were given half an hour at the start of the meeting to ask questions of the board of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust at Grantham Hospital.
Coun Ray Wootten told the board that his life has been saved at Grantham A&E in June when he suffered a heart attack. He said A&E was a ‘vital service’ and that he witnessed members of the public there waiting to be treated at 1.30am. He said: “Do you not think that 19,000 residents who have signed a petition to ask for A&E to be reopened and 7,000 on-line comments are a clear message that the board have got it wrong by closing Grantham’s A&E overnight?”
But the chief executive of ULHT, Jan Sobieraj, said: “Our plan is to reopen the A&E if we can. I understand your concerns but there are a lot of tough questions on how we maintain all our services in Lincolnshire.”
Asked what the Trust was doing to try and reopen the A&E at night, Louise Ludgrove, interim Director of Human Resources, said the trust was working with a specialist agency to try and recruit A&E doctors and was running national adverts for middle grade doctors who could come to Lincolnshire to work part-time and be funded for extra training.
She said across the three hospital sites there were 15 consultants posts, one of which was vacant, but of those only four were permanent consultants and the others taken up by locums. She added: “We have a reasonable level of cover but it’s fragile so we have to put particular reliance on other senior clinicans who are not consultants.”
Student Savannah Dowse, 19, asked how the Trust could justify closing A&E overnight when in its first week of closure a man died of a heart attack while being transported to Lincoln.
Dr Richard Andrews, deputy medical director, said heart attack patients were taken to a central heart centre in Lincoln where they could get the best care. He said that some patients however do not survive resuscitation.
Nigel Rivers, a protester who attended the meeting, said: “Having just attended the meeting at the Hospital, I must say that they were very gracious in allowing 35 minutes. However, there were some comments for concern and a few contradictions between what the members were saying. In short, I left the meeting feeling that Grantham is and will be the poor relation in Lincolnshire. There were more questions, but no time...and really, I don’t think it would have mattered. I am more determined than ever now that I have seen the decision makers face to face. People power will win the day.”