A protest group says it is concerned that the closure of A&E at Grantham Hospital will become permanent.
SOS Grantham Hospital has questioned how seriously United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is trying to recruit enough staff to make sure the A&E is reopened overnight in three months’ time. The trust closed A&E last week from 6.30pm to 9am on a temporary basis, saying it needed to boost staff numbers at its hospitals in Boston and Lincoln where there was a “staffing crisis”.
Chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital Charmaine Morgan said: “Given the ULHT promise the situation is only ‘temporary’, a further question has been raised over how urgently ULHT are seeking to recruit an appropriate number of A&E medium grade doctors.
“It was identified that a recent job advertisement has been posted by the Trust only for a total of four vacancies in Pilgrim and Lincoln Hospitals. ULHT had stated nine posts must be filled across the Trust to enable Grantham Hospital A&E to be re-opened. I have asked ULHT to provide evidence that they have advertised the five additional posts required.”
ULHT has been asked for a comment on the concerns of SOS Grantham Hospital.
Meanwhile, Coun Morgan thanked those who have supported the protest by signing a petition and taking part in vigils outside the hospital.
Councillor Morgan said: “In light of the awful news that ULHT planned to close our A&E unit between 6.30pm and 9am, the response from our community has been tremendous with people rallying round to act to defend our A&E. There has been some confusion caused by ULHT stating Grantham Hospital doesn’t treat certain trauma cases and therefore was not a proper A&E unit. To clarify Grantham A&E unit services were reduced after the last public consultation, but has successfully continued to provide vital life-saving stabilising support to critically ill patients, who may, or may not, be subsequently transferred to other hospitals for further treatment. The loss of this vital service is putting local lives at risk. Also, local people are entitled to an A&E service they are now being denied because they cannot get to Lincoln, Nottingham or Peterborough at night.”
The online petition has now attracted more than 10,000 signatures. More than 1,300 paper copies have so far been returned and more petition forms are going out into the community. Further petition forms may be obtained from the Journal, Cussells Jewellers or by request to Charmaine Morgan.
SOS Grantham Hospital has also given the go ahead for solicitors to start legal action to seek a Judicial Review given the lack of consultation by ULHT relating to the decision to close down Grantham Hospital A&E Unit at night time.
Councillor Morgan said: “The number of people signing our petition and comments made show the huge support this legal action has. Our community feels betrayed by United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust who have failed to make adequate provision for A&E services for the 120,000 people in the Grantham Hospital catchment area in the evening and night time. By their own account over 28 people on average walk into our A&E at night and a further eight attend by ambulance. We anticipate an increase in people, seeking help just before 6.30pm and more people attending A&E first thing. However critically ill people, for whom ‘time is of the essence’, will be left at risk as a result of their action.
“We have been advised that it is of national importance that their action does not go unchallenged as other Trusts facing financial difficulties are tempted to do likewise. If everyone who signs our petition donates at least £1 we will achieve our campaign target.
“Since the closure of our A&E at night at least two seriously injured boys appallingly have been forced to travel to Lincoln who could have been first stabilised at Grantham Hospital A&E, according to confidential sources. A Facebook account covers the tragic loss of a local grandfather who had a heart attack Thursday night and a second heart attack on the way to Lincoln Hospital.”
Weekly vigils will take place every Wednesday at Grantham Hospital between 6pm and 9.30pm. All members of the community, local councillors and Nick Boles MP have been invited to attend.
Volunteers are being asked to help run regular Street Stalls. Anyone interested may contact Charmaine Morgan and Steve Nesbitt on 07429 334260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jody Clark, of Fighting4Grantham is organising a protest march on September 3 supported by SOS Grantham Hospital.
Ali James has organised a fundraising concert at The Rectory, Grantham College, from 7.30pm on September 9 with a talented local line-up volunteering their services. Full details to follow shortly.
A sponsored cycle ride between Grantham and Lincoln is being organised by Elvis Stooke later in September who will be raising funds with a local nurse and highlighting the long distance between Grantham and Lincoln Hospitals.
Further campaign Action is planned including a protest at Lincoln Hospital and members of the public are being reminded of the ULHT Board meetings held at Grantham Hospital on a regular basis, details of which can be found on the ULHT website.