Campaigners demand 24-hour emergency unit at Grantham Hospital as A&E service restored
A&E services returned to Grantham Hospital this week, but campaigners have repeated their demands for the restoration of a 24-hour unit.
The A&E unit was replaced in June last year by an urgent treatment centre (UTC) as United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) set up a ‘green’ site to keep the hospital Covid-free.
The A&E service is again operating from 8am to 6.30pm after the overnight service came to a “temporary” end in 2016.
The inpatient medical service also restarted on Wednesday. The GP out-of-hours service has returned to the site with an enhanced walk-in service from 6pm to 10pm and bookable appointments overnight until 8am which can be made through NHS111.
The walk-in element will offer the same services as the UTC, including sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs, bites and stings, eye problems, feverish illness in adults and children, minor scalds and burns and emergency contraception.
ULHT chief executive Andrew Morgan said: “These temporary changes were introduced (in 2020) so we could safely provide more urgent elective care, such as cancer care, elective surgery, diagnostic and outpatient services during the global pandemic whilst minimising the risk of infection where possible.
“Thanks to the dedication, flexibility and hard work of our staff, as well as the co-operation from the people of Lincolnshire, this decision to ensure patient safety and services has been highly successful, as evidenced by the outstanding outcomes, particularly the fact that there was not a single post-operative case of Covid-19 in our patients.
“We always said these changes would be temporary and following a review of the clinical evidence, we are confident that we are now in a position to safely resume the full range of services to support our patients and population.”
Jody Clark, of campaign group Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, said: “It is good news to get the enhanced service provision the A&E provides, returned. It’s just a shame to lose the 24-hour access we have
“This puts us back to the original position of still wanting the 24-hour A&E and that’s what we will keep campaigning for.
“I don’t know why they can’t run the urgent treatment centre overnight, like they have been doing and still give us the A&E in the day?
“Five years on and the people of Grantham have made their voices clear. We want our local hospital to meet our needs 24/7.”
Another campaigner, Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, welcomed the restoration of A&E services but is concerned that not all services are being returned.
She said: “Whilst ULHT have made significant welcome improvements since their public announcement in March 2021, their latest proposals unfortunately still leave some very important concerns.
“It appears there are still no plans to fully restore the acute care unit (ACU) as it existed in June 2020. It is our understanding, therefore, that patients attending A&E will not have the full backing of the ACU and all of the treatments it could then provide. It is good to see ULHT adopt our proposal to retain at least some 24/7 service on site but we still seek the restoration of a 24/7 A&E after it was closed at night in August 2016 as a temporary measure.
“The restoration of two of the three long stay medical wards is welcome but again without the ACU the range of care available in June 2020 will be reduced.
“We do welcome plans to add a third ward to cope with winter pressures.”
Melissa Darcey, of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, said: “Although we do have some services returning this month it’s certainly not the pretty picture ULHT are trying to paint here as they have not returned all of the services they removed last year.
“I acknowledge that this is a step in the right direction but it’s still not where we need to be and Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire will continue to campaign for a fully functioning level one A&E 24/7 and for a fully comprehensive, free at the point of use NHS nationally. We have never changed our stance on this in the five years we have been
“I want ULHT to be made aware that we are not going to accept this as a token gesture; vital services were removed from Grantham Hospital in June 2020 that have not been returned in June 2021 and not only is this unacceptable, but it is also unlawful, and I feel ULHT needs reminding of their legal duty to restore all of our services.”