Grantham Journal letter: Do councillors care about health?

Grantham Hospital.
Grantham Hospital.
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In The Journal last week David Taylor criticised SKDC councillors for not speaking up to defend our hospital services and asked ‘do our politicians care?’

As someone who has campaigned for hospital services locally for over a decade I did challenge the ULHT managers. I also challenged SKDC Chairman Cllr Ray Wootten on a Point of Order when he summarised the presentation stating that it was encouraging to hear all was well at the hospital. I asked how could he say this when we have just been told our A&E services were to be further downgraded.

The silence from the majority of Conservative councillors at the SKDC meeting was for me nothing short of shameful, as was the Chairman’s control of the presentation session which denied us an opportunity for proper debate.

Not for the first time has SKDC scrutiny of ULHT been found wanting. Not so long ago they made a public statement following a similar presentation at their satisfaction of the services provided by ULHT only two weeks later to hear that our ULHT was among the worst in the country for patient deaths. Since the Conservatives have been in control of our NHS we have lost our Maternity Unit and now face further degradation of our A&E Unit. Why are most of our local Conservative councillors silent now? They are still pushing for the extensive development of Grantham whilst knowing that the Hospital Trust will not take the town’s growth into consideration.

The proposals from ULHT are fundamentally flawed. They argued Grantham A&E has insufficient cases to make it cost effective yet it was their management team which insisted on diverting acute cases from Grantham to Lincoln thus reducing Grantham’s patient numbers and boosting Lincoln’s. The changes were justified on the basis that now people prefer to go to a centre of excellence. Only if they make it there.

Lincoln Hospital is not a centre of excellence. Nottingham is nearer and a University Hospital. Deaths in transit are rarely mentioned now but these figures need examining. We also need clarity on just how Lincoln Hospital will cope with the additional demand on its facilities given it already has issues with standards. It was particularly galling to hear that the Maternity Unit has issues given the loss of our own excellent unit.

David Taylor is quite right to challenge the management of our Hospital Trust, whose actions have undermined the future of our Maternity Unit and now our A&E unit. There is also the issue if unsustainable and horrendously costly dependency on locum doctors. However we should not lay all the blame at their door.

The Government has underfunded our NHS by 5% year on year since being in control. There is also an issue regarding the per capita funding calculation which gives less to people in our region than others. The most vulnerable people in our communities will pay the price. Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHaC) have yet to make a final decision on the ULHT plans but if you are interested in submitting comments please contact me. We are considering campaign action. Nye Bevan stated that our NHS will remain as long as there are people willing to fight for it. If people do not stand up for our critical healthcare services they will be lost.

​Charmaine Morgan

Chair SOS Grantham Hospital