Hospital campaigners furious over review of minor injuries service
Health campaigners have vented their anger after it was revealed the future of an out of hours service at Grantham Hospital is being reviewed.
The future of the minor injuries service introduced at Grantham Hospital when its A&E department was closed overnight in August 2016 has been put in doubt.
Health bosses say the service is underused and have decided to consult the public on its future. They say that during the whole of 2017, the service was only used by 65 patients. The total cost of the service is £130,000 per year, which means the average cost of seeing each patient last year was £2,000.
Hospital campaigners have described the review as ‘disgraceful’, ‘misleading’ and ‘confusing’.
But John Turner, chief officer of South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is clearly not value for the public purse.”
In a letter to Grantham councillor Ray Wootten, Mr Turner and Dr Dave Baker, CCG GP chair, said: “Whilst the trial of this service does not appear to have been successful, we are keen to hear from local people on this matter so we are undertaking an online survey for the public over a four week period which will give the public an opportunity to provide their views. Once this process is complete, we will carefully consider this feedback and inform you of our conclusions.”
To have your say on the service go to http://southwestlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-surveys-and-consultations
The minor injury service was implemented in September 2016 after the hours of the A&E were reduced the previous month. The CCG introduced the service on a trial basis to see if it would be of value locally.
The service is operated by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust as part of the out of hours services based in the Kingfisher Unit at the hospital. The service is offered through 111 or as a walk-in service for local residents. It is open from 6.30pm to 11.30pm seven days a week, after the A&E department closes overnight.
The CCG says the service is in no way a replacement for A&E but is there to see people who have cuts, grazes or lacerations; minor scalds or burns; strains, sprains and suspected fractures; bites and stings.
Coun Wootten, who represents the St Wulfram’s ward in Grantham where the hospital is situated, said: “I would encourage as many people as possible to complete this survey if they want to retain the services of the minor injury unit at Grantham Hospital.
“The hospital has this valuable service which we don’t want to lose. Are we putting a cost on people’s health?”
Melissa Darcy, of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, said: “Yet again they are manipulating statistics to fit in with their own plans. Since the day they introduced the minor injuries services it has never been walk in, you had to access it via a phone call to 111. On many occasions we had people contacting us as they had been told by 111 that they could not go to Grantham as there was no staff there. On two occasions in 2016 I had to phone Grantham hospital for two different people to ask them if there were staff at the MIU. When they confirmed that there was we managed to get access into the MIU for the two people.
“Is it any wonder that their statistics show such a little amount of people when the clinical assessment service has been directing people away from Grantham the whole time? It is disgraceful that the CCG continue to mislead the public.”
Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, said: “With the possibility of losing our minor injuries service, this has caused much confusion, concern and distress to the local community. Without our overnight emergency care, many of our residents are reassured to know the minor injuries service is available until 11.30pm every evening, with many using the service, or would have done, had they known it was there!
“It is a shame it doesn’t have access to the X-ray department and costs so much to provide but we do not have an alternative. Not everyone has access to transport and could be left with a minor injury overnight, leading to possible complications.
“When the online public survey is released, we will share the link via our Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital Facebook page and keep raising concerns to South West Lincolnshire CCG and United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust. We have lost too much already and deserve safe local services as stated in the NHS constitution.”
Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, said: “The fact ULHT is considering a Minor Injuries Unit flies in the face of evidence showing the need to retain life saving patient stabilisation and resuscitation services locally. The trust is under pressure due to its financial position from the Government body NHSi who are determined to centralise A&E services and cut the cost of providing acute services nationally, despite the vital role they provide our community.
“The CCG has been pushing to remove A&E services at Grantham, too, but the distance to the next nearest A&E being at least 25 miles has thwarted them to date. That changes are proposed ahead of the STP, and at the same time Boston faces a downgrade in paediatric services, is unacceptable. Worse there has been a deliberate downplaying of the impact with Grantham repeatedly described as an Urgent Care Centre by ULHT and other NHS bodies. ULHT and the CCG are pushing ahead regardless of the cumulative impact of change on patients.
“We will continue to fight and draw a line to protect these vital services. We invite all to join us as we hand over our petition. Sixty thousand of us said ‘No!’ to this. One hundred and twenty thousand of us will lose acute medical care with 24/7 A&E services lost. Coach tickets to Downing Street are available for Friday, July 6. Contact me on 01476 574748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat on the coach organised by SOS Grantham Hospital.”
Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Coun Martin Hill, said: “I’m very disappointed to hear that this service, which was put in place as a temporary measure until the overnight A&E could be re-instated at Grantham, is now under threat.
“Other hospitals such as Louth, have maintained late night cover and there is currently no mention of where injured and ill people would be expected to travel to as an alternative to Grantham. This is incredibly frustrating when they should be looking to deal with these conditions locally. Extra cost will end up being pushed onto the ambulance service and other NHS providers.”
Coun Hill has recently expressed his concerns about the future of health services in the county and that plans for changes within the NHS that are needed to deliver safe, good quality services on budget, have not been forthcoming in Lincolnshire.
He added: “We need permanent solutions to the problems the NHS in Lincolnshire is facing and I want to see Grantham Hospital at the centre of overall health service provision for the county, as it rightly should be, serving our largest town and beyond.”