Grantham Hospital is in danger of losing more services, including its children’s ward and A&E, says a health professional who works there.
The concerned source, who does not wish to be named, says staffing levels have been dangerously low and that United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust will have to close a total of 52 beds, almost half.
The whistleblower told the Journal: “For a long time they have wanted to downgrade the hospital. When the Keogh team came earlier this year they were so concerned with staffing levels they said close 16 beds in Wards Five and Six. They had to close the beds because of insufficient staff to run them. Then they reopened beds without recruiting any more staff and put more patients at risk.”
The source says the hospital is increasingly under pressure because people are choosing to come to Grantham from Newark, which has no A&E department, and the Sleaford area.
He said: “The perception of people is that as the town grows so will the hospital. That’s not true. The town is growing and there are major rail and road routes nearby, but the hospital currently could not cope with major accidents.”
He says the hospital cannot cope with trauma cases and no longer takes complex surgery cases such as bowel and cardiac cases.
He added: “ULHT are not investing in an acute general hospital. They want to concentrate on day surgery, refurbish the theatres and focus on day cases, not the hips and knee operations local people need.
“If you look at Grantham and its needs, it needs a fully functioning district general hospital that can provide core services and the people of Grantham expect that and deserve it.”
A&E is in danger of being downgraded to an emergency care centre which does not require a consultant, he said.
“We need a consultant-led service to support all these different kinds of services. We need consultants to maintain a safe service otherwise this is putting people’s lives at risk.”
He said people seriously hurt in car accidents were being diverted to Lincoln which meant there were inevitable delays in getting patients to hospital.
The hospitals trust says there are no plans to close beds at Grantham.
A trust spokesman said: “There are currently no plans to close any beds at Grantham. Over the last few months, we have successfully improved the responsiveness of our services to the needs of patients, meaning patients stay in hospital for a shorter period of time. This means that although we are just as busy, we have less people in the hospital at any one time, meaning we need fewer beds.
“We have also carried out a review of staffing levels across the trust to ensure safe staffing levels on all wards, and as part of these two pieces of work, it made sense to merge the empty beds so that we could use staff more efficiently.
“The NHS constantly responds to the needs of patients, so any situation will fluctuate and we will respond accordingly at a local level. For example, we currently have plans to put in place more palliative care beds for next year.”
Children’s services at the trust have been reviewed as part of the Shaping Health for Mid Kesteven review which went to public consultation.
The trust said: “The outcomes included putting in place a ‘hub’ for children’s services, supported by additional paediatrician resource in A&E which will include an observational bay for children. These recommendations are being implemented as per Shaping Health.”
With regard to A&E the trust said: “Grantham has always had an on-call system for consultants at night, as is the model used by many hospitals. This does not affect the status of any A&E department, but is often the most appropriate service to provide for the needs of the patients that use A&E at night.”
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