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Petition containing more than 33,000 on-line signatures against closure of A&E overnight is presented to health group

A petition containing more than 33,000 on-line signatures has been presented as part of the protest against the overnight closure ofGrantham A&E unit.

SOS Grantham Hospital Chair, District Councillor Charmaine Morgan, presented over 33,000 Care2 Petition online signatures and comments to South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group representative Clare Raybold.

Coun Morgan also presented copies of the letters from Belton Lane Primary School children written when the A&E unit was closed.

The SOS Grantham Hospital petition. (17046589)
The SOS Grantham Hospital petition. (17046589)

The comments were submitted as part of the body of evidenceopposing any downgrade of Grantham and District Hospital A&E services. In particular the petition called for 24/7 access with patient resuscitation and stabilisation. They are to be included as submissions for the review of services now taking place in A Healthy Conversation.

Coun Morgan said: “Despite the formal closure of the petition in July 2018, when a copy was delivered to 10 Downing Street, people have continued to sign and leave comments bringing them up to date and reflecting the level of concern.

“The comments and children’s letters contain valuable anecdotal, sometimes first hand experience of local people. Over a staggering 80,000 people signed our petition of which 60,000 were local/national. Grantham is in an important central location and a transport hub. The hospital catchment area is cross border including Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland residents as well as those of us in Lincolnshire and visitors from all over who come to our town. Every voice should be heard.”

Meanwhile district councillor Ray Wootten attended this week’s annual meeting of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, where he says he learned that 45 Acute Service Review surveys have been completed and 363 feedback forms have been completed as part of the Healthy Conversation consultation on local health services.

He said 365 people have attended engagement events in the district and 26 people attended a recentworkshop in Grantham.

Coun Wootten said: “It was disappointing to read that so few residents attended the public events. I hope that more attend and voice their concerns and ideas at any future dates.”

Among the letters written by the pupils one Belton lane boy wrote: "Many people have need of a local A&E, including my mum. When she fell down the stairs she cracked her head and slipped out of consciousness. My dad was very worried and rushed her straight to Grantham A+E. If she had to go to Lincoln or Pilgrim she would have lost a lot more blood and taken more time to recover."

Another child wrote: "I am an asthma sufferer and a few days ago I had a bad asthma attack with chest pains and shortness of breath as well. My Mum gave me inhalers and took me to (Grantham) A&E. We were seen quickly. My Mum and I have no transport..."

Online petitioner comments said: "If it wasn't for Grantham A&E nine years ago, my daughter as a baby wouldn't be here now!" and"We need this service, how many people will die without it?"

Coun Morgan added: "It is easy to look at such matters in terms of statistics but there is a person behind every number. Even then some stats are open to challenge. At the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust board meeting in December 2017, Mark Brassington advised board members that there was 'no impact' of the night closure in August 2016. This simply could not be determined without a holistic look at all possible scenarios. For example, if a patient dies at home because their ambulance arrives too late this would not be recorded by ULHT. People using Nottingham QMC, Peterborough or Leicester A&E units, all over 23 miles away, were not considered by ULHT either.

The CCG, as a healthcare commissioning body, has to look at overall patient care and fully consider all potential scenarios. At present they are still gathering evidence engaging with the public. Another session is planned in Grantham in October.

Coun Morgan asked Clare Raybold when the CCG will go to formal consultation with proposals. Ms Raybold stated it would likely be next year.

Coun Morgan said: "It was encouraging to hear that our pleas for the unit to be open 24/7 are being taken seriously by the CCG. We need walk in access too. Ms Raybold also indicated patient resuscitation and stabilisation would remain. She stated these facilities must be available if operations are to continue onsite. However, the timescale of this work is concerning and leaves people at risk. A temporary night closure in August 2016 by ULHT has turned into years."

In a further move, agreed at a Co-operative Party meeting in August in Grantham, local campaigners are organising a meeting with Karen Lee MP in Lincoln.

Coun Morgan said: "While Grantham area residents are having to travel to other struggling A&E units it only puts more pressure on them affecting their local residents. Clearly the sooner we have our A&E services restored 24/7 the better for everyone.

"A huge thanks must go to everyone who signed our petition, wrote letters and who continue to campaign and support us however they can. At times people wondered if it would help but it did before in 2013 and it can again. We will not give up until our voices are heard. There is a spark of hope that may finally be happening."

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