A&E petition of 60,000 signatures to be taken to Downing Street
On Friday (July 6) SOS Grantham Hospital will be taking moving letters from local children and a staggering 60,000 signatures in a petition to Downing Street.
The petition, collected since May 2016, opposes the strategic downgrade of Grantham Hospital A&E. The hospital, in the birthplace of Lady Margaret Thatcher, serves 120,000 people in a rural area on the A1 corridor north of Peterborough. Newark, Melton Mowbray and Sleaford residents will also be affected. All campaigners are welcome to join the trip.
Chair of SOS Grantham Hospital Charmaine Morgan says if Grantham A&E is downgraded residents and visitors will be left without local emergency stabilisation or resuscitation. She said: "Local lives will be put at risk."
The unit received over 4,400 emergency ambulances in 2016. Over 30,000 patients were treated at the unit. The next nearest A&E units are Nottingham, Lincoln or Peterborough which are more than 24 miles away. Coun Morgan added: "Some villagers face journeys of over 40 miles. There is virtually no public transport for most of the area affected. The 'temporary' night closure of the A&E unit in August 2016 has left sick people without cars relying on an over stretched East Midlands Ambulance Service or paying up to £75 each way for a taxi -if they can get one. When ULHT reached target staffing levels required to re-open the unit NHS England intervened. It remains closed between 6.30pm and 08.30am every night.
District Coun Charmaine Morgan (Lab) said: "It is dreadful that as we face the 70th Anniversary of our NHS our A&E network is being undermined locally and nationally by Government policy. Despite opposition from local authorities United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is progressing its plans thanks to the power afforded it by Jeremy Hunt's Health & Care Act (2013). A Care Quality Commission report announced this week Grantham Hospital is of a good standard. In contrast Lincoln Hospital faces serious questions about its performance, the high number of avoidable deaths is particularly concerning. It makes no sense to put more pressure on Lincoln Hospital which has neither the space or staff to cope at present. Lincoln Hospital is soon to become a University Hospital. This is excellent news but should not come at the cost of services in Grantham and Boston. Boston Pilgrim Hospital also faces a review of its A&E services. Across the county those living on the outskirts are losing out. This is not just a local issue.
"Rural areas are particularly affected as Trusts argue the population is not big enough to sustain an A&E unit and it is unsafe to keep them open, yet, city hospitals are too far away to access within an hour and are struggling to cope. In order to justify the cuts in Lincolnshire, ULHT have argued to key NHS decision makers that Grantham Hospital does not have a proper A&E unit. FOI evidence has subsequently revealed the wide range of treatment and severity of cases handled by the A&E unit including heart failure, severe breathing problems and sepsis.
Nick Boles MP will be unable to attend the petition handover at Downing Street due to a personal commitment however arrangements have been made to enable campaigners to have access to the House of Commons cafe and tearoom on the day once the petition is handed over after a short rally. Subject to time, a Health debate is also taking place in the House of Commons which petitioners may choose to listen to from the Public Gallery.
Coun Morgan thanked Care2 for help with the on-line petition, Belton Lane School, all local campaigners and everyone who signed the petition.
The coach will depart A C Williams coach yard at 8.40am where cars may be left. A further stop at Ancaster at the Post Office will be available.
The coach leaves from outside Grantham Hospital on Manthorpe Road at 9am and there is an approximate 9.30am departure from Stamford at the Danish Invader Pub (just off the A1). A scheduled stop will be made on the journey.
The itinerary in London is as follows:
1.30pm Petition will be handed in at Downing Street
2pm Optional tea in the House of Commons
1.30pm onwards - free time in London
6pm Depart London
The coach will have wheelchair access and has a toilet.
Standard tickets are £20 each return, concessions £10 and children £5 each return. Under 5s free.
Donations are welcome from anyone on a low income.
Mrs Morgan said: "We will be sending a strong message at this key time that we need our A&E. It is time to stop the attack on our national A&E network. Thanks to AC Williams Coaches who have kindly provided a coach at a discounted price, have kindly provided multiple pick up points and a later return from London. Local campaigners, councillors and Paul Lewis, a local nurse who faced disciplinary measures for standing up for hospital services, will be among those handing in the petition. Campaigners from all parties have come together such is the concern. Electronic copies of the Care2 online-petition, including comments, and copies of the children's letters, will also be shared with ULHT and Lincolnshire County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee."
To reserve a seat on the coach contact SOSGH Chair Coun Charmaine Morgan on 07398 156296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It may be possible to pick up the coach on the day subject to availability. Ring ahead on 07398 156296 to check for spaces.