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'Confusion over walk-in services at urgent treatment centre in Grantham'

Campaigners say Grantham people are being sent to A&E at Lincoln when they should have been sent to the new urgent treatment centre (UTC) in town.

Is Anyone Listening? Lincolnshire NHS campaign group has sent a letter highlighting the problems to health bosses and Grantham MP Gareth Davies.

Nicky Griffiths, of the group, says 75 members and residents have also signed the letter.

Signage outside Grantham Hospital reads 'Urgent Treatment Centre'. (37212925)
Signage outside Grantham Hospital reads 'Urgent Treatment Centre'. (37212925)

The letter said: “The ‘Talk Before You Walk’ system is not working – people phone 111 and are told they need to go to Lincoln A&E. When they get there they are diverted to the urgent treatment centre [at Lincoln], and when they are finally seen they are told that they should have gone to Grantham UTC.

“People are being told that they can have blood tests at Grantham Hospital on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8am and 5pm. When they arrive they are turned away unless they have proof of a recent negative test for Covid-19. They are told they must go to Lincoln or Boston instead.”

The letter goes on to say there is confusion over other areas at the hospital as well.

It says: “Some people are being told that they can no longer have X-rays at Grantham, but others are being given appointments to have X-rays in the urgent treatment centre. The same applies to scans. People are very confused because there is no consistency.

“Someone had an appointment at Grantham fracture clinic, when they arrived they were told that the clinic was no longer held in Grantham. A few days later the person received a letter for a replacement appointment at Grantham fracture clinic!

“This is a totally unacceptable situation; why do the people of Grantham deserve such inferior healthcare services?”

The A&E unit at Grantham was downgraded temporarily to a UTC on June 22. It will remain in place until at least March 31, 2021.

Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten told a virtual meeting this week of Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), which runs the UTC, that residents have reported they been turned away at point of entry or, if they have gone through the 111 service, some were directed elsewhere.

It was confirmed that you do not need an appointment to attend the UTC and that security people at the entrance, who are employed by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, are only there to signpost the public to the correct location.

Following an inquiry from Grantham councillor Linda Wootten, LCHS said the number of people redirected to A&E in the first few weeks of opening was 3.88 per cent of all patients, which was 44 patients.

The meeting was told that the X-ray department is open seven days a week from 7am to 8pm, by appointment only. Bloods are not now routinely done at the unit but referred back to the GP surgeries

Maz Fosh, chief executive of LCHS, told the Journal: “The temporary Grantham urgent treatment centre is available 24/7 on a walk-in basis to provide medical help to people living in and around Grantham.

“I am disappointed to hear about the difficulties some patients have experienced using NHS111 to access our services. These were also highlighted to us through a number of public questions to our board meeting on Tuesday.

“I would like to reassure people living in Grantham that we are doing all we can to make sure that DHU Health Care, who provide the NHS111 service locally, are taking steps to ensure accurate and up-to-date information is provided to people when they call about the services available from Grantham UTC.

“We will be having further conversations at a senior level with DHU Health Care to ensure urgent action is taken to improve the accuracy of the information provided.

“If residents experience difficulty in accessing our services, we ask them to please contact our patient advice and liaison service by calling 0300 123 9553 or by emailing lhnt.lincspals@nhs.net so we can identify and address any issues.”

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