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People voice concerns as date for urgent treatment centre to replace Grantham A&E is announced

A date has been announced for the opening of an urgent treatment centre which will replace the A&E at Grantham Hospital.

The new UTC will open on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.

This will replace the hospital’s A&E department, following the controversial decision in 2016 to see it eventually replaced by a UTC. Since 2016 the A&E department has only been open from 8am to 6.30pm each day.

Grantham Hospital A&E will close on October 31 to be replaced by an urgent treatment centre.
Grantham Hospital A&E will close on October 31 to be replaced by an urgent treatment centre.

Hospital campaigners and local residents have condemned the decision to close the A&E at the end of this month.

Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, said that people will be invited to a vigil on October 31 to mark the downgrade of A&E with more details to be announced.

She said: “Whilst 35 other A&E units have closed or been downgraded nationally, we should be proud that our campaigning efforts, including a march with 6,000 people and petition with over 80,000 signatures to Downing Street, have kept acute care locally at Grantham and District Hospital for at least 15 years. We have been the voice of patients and NHS staff alike. Who knows how many lives were saved, or, suffering lessened as a result.

“One of the biggest arguments that predetermined NHS directors and senior managers have made throughout their campaign is that Grantham 'did not really have an A&E since 2008' . This misinformation is underlying key decisions. Even now they are saying this. We know this is not the case.

“Whilst we oppose the downgrade of our A&E to a UTC we are grateful that such effort has gone into delivering an 'enhanced' unit now. The continuation of this status is vital. It is a huge pity, and concerning, that NHS England refused to allow the 'enhanced' status of the UTC to be reflected in its title. There is clearly a need for more than a basic GP led service whenever an A&E is lost.

“Even with this additional support, according to our NHS bodies, at least 700 acutely ill patients a year will not receive the treatment once available locally. They are most likely to be most at risk.”

Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, said:” We knew the A&E would be changing to the 24hr enhanced Urgent Treatment Centre for such a long time. Now we know it will be the 31st of October, it will give staff and patients the security of the services and we all know when the services are open and what we can go for.

“I know many parents will be relieved that they no longer have to travel for overnight care for minor bumps and scrapes, like they have been doing for the past seven years.”

The change at Grantham Hospital comes as a result of a consultation led by Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (now Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board) into four acute services which took place last year, known as the Acute Services Review.

Following the 12-week consultation and the feedback received from the public, Lincolnshire ICB decided that the people of Grantham and surrounding areas needed a 24-hour urgent care service.

The Grantham A&E Department became a day time only service in 2016 as a result of severe staffing challenges, which United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) said made delivering an overnight service unsafe.

From Tuesday, October 31, patients will be able to walk into the new UTC 24 hours a day, and access bookable appointments available 24 hours per day via 111.

ULHT says the urgent care services can treat a wide range of conditions which are not critical or life threatening such as sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs and feverish illness in adults and children. The UTC will also provide access to X-ray, CT and MRI scanners and will be backed up with a new integrated community and acute medical service provided jointly with partners at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS).

In addition to the services offered at the UTC, clinical assessment and stabilisation will be undertaken for any patients who need to be transferred onward to other hospitals for their care.

ULHT chief operating officer Michelle Harris said: “We are pleased to be able to restore a 24 hour service to Grantham and District Hospital.

“This new service will be an Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) which is equipped to see and treat the vast majority of patients who would previously have been seen in the A&E Department at the site.

“Due to the limitations of the hospital’s size, staffing and available support services, the A&E at Grantham has only been able to treat a limited number of patients for a number of years, with those suffering from serious trauma, heart attacks, strokes and paediatric emergencies being directed to other hospitals for specialist care.

“The service offered at the new UTC will be very similar, and will be delivered by a skilled range of doctors, GPs, practitioners and nursing staff, many of whom have worked in the A&E at Grantham for many years.

“It will also be an ‘enhanced’ UTC compared to others in the county, offering additional diagnostic capabilities and enhanced staffing, which we believe will safely serve the people of Grantham and the surrounding areas.”

But Journal readers have criticised the move.

Kerry Measures said: “No A&E yet we still continue to build more homes in this town and put even more pressure on Lincoln and Boston that can't cope as it is. Mad!”

Daniel Smith said: “’Won't treat life threatening or critical’ is part of the reason local people are dying in the back of ambulances on route to hospitals miles away... always assuming you actually get an ambulance on time.”

And Michelle Parnell said: “Why is it going to be called an urgent treatment centre? Aren’t heart attacks, RTAs urgent, sprained ankles I wouldn’t say is urgent, the names all wrong. May as well call it a walk in centre… all so wrong.”

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