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Breaking news: Radical plans would see Grantham A&E disappear and breast cancer service brought in

Grantham Hospital
Grantham Hospital

Replacing Grantham’s A&E with an urgent care centre is a key part of plans released by health bosses today (Tuesday) which could radically change the face of health services across the county.

The proposals aim to save £130 million by 2021.

Under the plans, Grantham will only have an urgent care centre and no A&E – while the Boston Pilgrim and Lincoln County hospitals would have ‘new urgent care centres at the front of A&E’, retaining their emergency departments.

Grantham would also be home to The Lincolnshire Breast Centre where all planned breast cancer care would be centralised.

The Lincolnshire Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP) was released by Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) today during a press conference after it was leaked on Monday – a week ahead of the official reveal.

Bosses say the plans aim to achieve:

* More investment in primary care and community services;

* Joined up health and social care service;

* Improved service effectiveness and the possible options to centralise some services ‘where it will deliver a better outcome for patients’.

STP lead Allan Kitt called the plans an ‘exciting opportunity for Lincolnshire’. He said: “For the first time we have a single plan to help us do this and we’re already making progress in a number of areas.

“The people of Lincolnshire deserve good quality care; we have a great opportunity now to overhaul the way our outdated services operate and provide care that is seamless and effective, where every pound spent delivers real benefit to our patients.”

However, campaigners for the full restoration of Grantham’s A&E department are outraged by the plan to replace it with an urgent care centre. Members of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital made their concerns known at a meeting of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) board this morning at Grantham Hospital.

Meanwhile, Coun Charmaine Morgan, chairman of fellow campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital said: “The news of the proposed downgrade of Grantham A&E to an urgent care centre is not surprising given their earlier comments, but quite appalling, given the impact on our community. it will put more lives at risk if it goes ahead.

“We will do all we can to stop it.

“The STPs are forcing a one size fits all structure that does not work in rural areas. The STPs require local authority support. The downgrade of Grantham A&E should not go ahead for that reason.

“SOS grantham Hospital have a petition now over 42,000 signatures opposing any downgrade of Grantham A&E. It is a clear message to ULHT and Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and the Government.”

The document includes a series of options across urgent care, women and children, including:

* New urgent care centres at the front of A&E at Lincoln and Boston;

* Urgent care centre to replace A&E at Grantham;

* Relocation of critical care to Lincoln;

* Relocating vascular surgery from Boston to Lincoln;

* Consolidating ‘hyper acute’ stroke services to Lincoln with a centralised ‘ Lincolnshire Stroke Unit’ and a single stroke team across Boston and Lincoln;

* Centralising all emergency paediatrics in Lincoln for mothers with complications;

* Developing a paediatric assessment unit at Boston;

* Having a single neonatal team across Lincoln and Boston with all neonatal services centred on Lincoln;

* Having a single maternity team across Boston and Lincoln, with a consultant-led obstetrics service in Lincoln with midwifery-led units on both sites. This also has alternatives including centralising consultant-led obstetrics and maternity units at Lincoln or developing a standalone maternity unit in Boston and relocating obstetrics services to Lincoln.

* The learning disabilities inpatient service in Lincoln could also be replaced with a community-based model.

The LHAC team said no decision has been made and any changes will be subject to a full public consultation, which is planned to take place in May next year after any local elections.

It is estimated hospital services in Lincolnshire will overspend by £182 million by 2021 if no changes are made to how services are delivered. LHAC says the £130 million savings, supported by an assumed additional £52m in national transformation funding, will bring the NHS in Lincolnshire back into balance within the five-year timeframe.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust and chairman of the System Executive Team, said: “It has not been an easy process and we have had to make some difficult choices about how to prioritise spending in order to maximise the benefit to our whole population.

“We have looked at national best practice and we have listened to the views of our residents to come up with a high level plan. Now we want to continue that discussion and engagement as we move forward with delivering it. We are committed to being as inclusive and open as possible. We will listen to all contributions and use these contributions to influence the decisions we make.”

The LHAC review began in 2013 but its final outcomes have been delayed by a series of events including the NHS England’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP), the EU Referendum, and a series of by-elections.


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