A&E closure: Fight to protect Grantham’s A&E department begins with protest rally

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A crowd gathered outside the entrance to Grantham Hospital on Saturday afternoon to stand united against the downgrade of Grantham’s A&E department and night-time closures coming in this week.

Campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital began organising the rally following news this week that the department will be closed between 6.30pm and 9am every day for three months from Wednesday.

Protest rally outside Grantham Hospital, over reduction in A&E cover in Grantham.

Protest rally outside Grantham Hospital, over reduction in A&E cover in Grantham.

The move was taken by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) due to a staffing crisis at its other two hospitals, Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim. It says patient safety is being put at risk because of a shortage of doctors and claims the move is necessary to provide the safest option for Lincolnshire as a whole.

SOS Grantham Hospital is not only protesting against the overnight closure, it is also demanding that full A&E services be restored and retained long-term. This call follows comments made earlier this summer by ULHT medical director Suneil Kapadia that Grantham’s A&E is likely to be downgraded to an urgent care centre as part of a package of changes proposed for Lincolnshire, put together by Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC).

At Saturday’s rally, copies of a petition were distributed and people were invited to speak on the night-time closure of the A&E department.

Campaign group chairman Councillor Morgan told the Journal she feels ULHT is “riding roughshod over Grantham Hospital’s community”.

She added: “We have a diverse community and a number of local businesses operate 24 hours. The decision ignores that some of the poorest families in the county will now be forced to travel to the next nearest A&E. Even if they can get an ambulance to Lincoln they face being stranded there in the early hours of the morning. There is evidence that as many as 10,000 local people will be affected.”

An online petition set up by SOS Grantham Hospital has already been signed by more than 3,300 people. Sign the petition here.