Fears for future of Grantham Hospital and A&E deepen after UTC announcement
Fears for the future of the town’s A&E deepened this week with a report revealing plans for urgent treatment centres (UTC) to relieve pressure on A&E departments - with no mention of Grantham.
Health bosses are being asked to be clear about the future of Grantham Hospital and its A&E department, which was closed overnight in 2016.
At a meeting of the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee this week, Ruth Cumbers, who is urgent care programme director in Lincolnshire, refused to be drawn on the future of Grantham A&E.
Plans for five urgent treatment centres across Lincolnshire have been slammed as “lacking clarity”.
The Lincolnshire STP has recommended the UTCs are set up at Boston, Lincoln, Louth, Stamford and Skegness..
The services will diagnose and treat the most common illnesses and injuries patients go to accident and emergency for.
But, members of the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire raised concerns over the details of the proposals.
Chair of the panel Coun Carl Macey has called for the plans to be brought back to the committee next year before they go out for consultation. He said: “We need to see further details. Here we have a document that talks about these urgent treatment centres and they’re not giving any details of how long they’re going to be open for and how they’re going to impact on A&Es.”
He added that the panel would consider “stronger action” if no further detail was brought back.
Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten spoke at the meeting. He said he questioned Mrs Cumbers about the fact that in the report she referenced the Lincolnshire Urgent and Emergency Care Strategy which states that Grantham only has low level type three patients. The classification of an Urgent Treatment Centres will be classed as type three, leading to fears that Grantham A&E will disappear.
Coun Wootten said: “The committee did not have confidence in the report and felt that it should contain services at Grantham, which I welcome.
“I fear for the future of Grantham Hospital as a full A&E 24/7 hospital and believe that one day it will be an Urgent Treatment Centre. I hope that I am proved wrong.
“Grantham Hospital A&E has been closed overnight since August 2016 and I look forward to when the plans are published, as my patience is wearing thin.”
Melissa Darcey, of campaign group Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, has called on health bosses to come clean about the future of Grantham A&E.
Ms Darcey said: “It has been over two years now. We need to know what is happening. They need to be honest with us.
“They keep on saying we are scaremongering, but we need to know the truth. If they came out and told us the truth we would know where we stand.”
Mrs Cumbers said the move was being rolled out across the country. She said: “This is a nationally mandated scheme. Across the whole of the county there is a lot of confusion over the alternative services. It is a really exciting opportunity for us to be able to standardise.”
Officials say the centres will relieve pressure on A&E so the department is free to deal with more serious cases.
The service will combine minor injuries units, walk-in centres and urgent care centres and be based in front of A&E departments.
Patients will be encouraged to call the non-emergency number 111 in order to be seen but a streaming service will be available at the front door.
Both Lincoln County Hospital and Boston Pilgrim are expected to launch UTCs in December next year.