‘Insufficient resources for a fully functioning Obstetric Unit and emergency surgery at Grantham Hospital’ says chairman of Grantham Hospital Defence Committee

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The chairman of Grantham Hospital Defence Committee has backed fully proposals that would see Grantham lose it maternity unit, in a letter to the Grantham Journal today.

Ian Mihill, chairman of the Grantham Hospital Defence Committee, said “difficult decisions” have to be made by “well-informed people”.

Mr Mihill added that it is his belief the proposed changes, opposed by fellow campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital, will help secure the future of Grantham Hospital.

Here is Mr Mihill’s letter in full:

It is both predictable and disappointing to read the views of SOS Grantham Hospital as set out over recent weeks in the Grantham Journal. The recent headline suggesting underlying factors may not have been considered is frankly a disgrace.

The work undertaken by the Programme Board over the past three years could not have been more exhaustive in terms of data and discussion and breadth of involvement. Difficult decisions that have to be taken when resources are scarce are not taken lightly over a cup of coffee in the hope of upsetting a few people for the fun of it. They are taken very seriously over a prolonged period by very well informed people and even then such decisions are agonised over due to the inevitable public outcry and negative reactions in the press.

If you look at the facts surrounding maternity units in medical safety terms, which is the key issue in commissioning medical services, things become clearer. A fully functioning Obstetric Unit requires relevant, highly trained, staff. This includes midwives, paediatricians, theatre facilities, theatre staff, anaesthetists and more. This provides the emergency caesarean option and all the cover needed if complications arise. Current medical standards require 5,000 births per year for such a unit to be viable and Grantham has 100 births per year and there are only 7,000 in the whole of Lincolnshire. The medical profession would not and will not commission an unsafe service. Finally, let us be clear, that there are not sufficient resources in Lincolnshire for a fully functioning Obstetric Unit and Emergency surgery at Grantham Hospital. Population distribution and profile dictates that such facilities are elsewhere in the county.

If SOS Grantham had taken up the repeated offer to be a member of the Programme Board over the last three years and attended the meetings and had access to the papers then they would have had access to all the necessary facts and information. Hopefully they would have realised that the decision is a difficult but correct one that reflects medical practice today and the resources available in the real world that we live in and not some fantasy world that no longer exists.

As Chairman of Grantham Hospital Defence Committee I have been a member of the Programme Board throughout, have had access to the papers and attended the meetings and had the opportunity to discuss this issue at length with the medical professionals. During this process I could not have been more impressed with the commitment of those involved to secure the future of Grantham Hospital at the centre of medical care in South West Lincolnshire. The outcome and recommendations are overwhelmingly positive and I support them completely given the constraints that exist.

When we formed GHDC we had a genuine concern for the future of the hospital and no real access to information. We had meetings and rallies, and printed tee shirts. Today I believe the future of the hospital is secure and at the centre of medical provision in a new and imaginative format with increased elective and planned surgery, an improved A & E service by bringing together A & E and GP out of hours services and a more creative and effective paediatric unit for our children - and all within a budget that has been constrained in real terms.

The Board and the Professionals should be congratulated on this outcome and thanked for being bold enough to take difficult decisions for the greater benefit of us all. Relocating the Maternity Unit to a Hospital with an Obstetric Unit is a difficult but correct decision.

The Public Consultation will be completed on Wednesday 20th February. If you believe these proposals are positive and appropriate, as I do, please don’t sit quietly. Make your feelings known and support the proposals and let us, for once, applaud and welcome an outcome that secures the future of our local hospital for us all.

Ian Mihill

Chairman Grantham Hospital Defence Committee