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Consultation into Grantham Hospital and county health services leaves me with a number of concerns

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Having read the latest edition of the Grantham Journal and read the article on page 5 entitled 'Concern people showing “apathy” to health review’, I thought I should “go on line” to endeavour to understand the proposals being made, says Grantham Journal reader Christopher Maughan.

Also, possible selfishly, to consider how they might affect me, specifically, as an 80+ year old, if I were to need urgent A&E services. I am familiar with both Grantham, Lincoln and Boston Hospitals as I have received consultations and treatment in all three hospitals. All such consultations and treatments have been carried out in a professional, competent and, usually, a pleasant and caring manner. My most recent visit was to Lincolnshire Hospital when I received excellent minor surgery treatment in the Dermatology Department.

As I read the proposals I could see that what was being presented for comment on, by the public, had been pre-determined with, effectively, the public being asked to “rate” on a scale whether they agreed, or disagreed, with the proposals. No indication being provided as to what would happen if the overall public view was negative to the proposals. It is clear what will happen if the public view is positive! So is the exercise just a means by which it can be claimed the “public” have been consulted?

Grantham Hospital (51903737)
Grantham Hospital (51903737)

Having spent some time endeavouring to understand the proposals. And noting, as one would expect, the proposals to be presented in the best possible way. Also noting that, undoubtedly, “cash” is involved, I spent further time completing the questionnaire.

The questions have been carefully drafted and I must admit, if the resources available to Lincolnshire NHS Services, are restricted it seems sensible to consolidate those resources to maximise the benefit to those of us who live in Lincolnshire. Yes it is a “pain in the butt” to drive to Lincoln when Grantham Hospital is a much shorter drive. But a 24/7 service that would deal with the majority of cases that “present” at Grantham is better than the present “restricted” service. Yes it would be nice to have a fully functioning A&E but, unless it can be “funded” and “resourced” it just can’t happen.

What is of concern to me is the fact that both the 24/7 service and the “integrated community/acute medical beds” are to be provided by a “Community Health Service Provider”. The information provided as to who/what this “Health Care Provider” is, is not made clear. It is suggested it would be a Partnership Model between a Community Health Care Provider and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. So are Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust “sub-contracting” responsibility for these activities to a third party? If so what will be the financial arrangements for such a partnership? How will the “competence” of the “provider” be judged? Will the people providing the service, at the hospital, be at the hospital 24/7, or just “on call”. Are we at risk of getting a “third rate” service “dressed up” as a 24/7 service?

The other matter I have concern about is the proposed stroke service – There is no mention of a heart attack service. It seems very sensible to make Lincoln a “centre of Excellence” so it can recruit and retain staff skilled in dealing with such matters. BUT there is a “Golden” hour for the treatment of people with a suspected stroke. They must have a scan, within this “Golden” hour to determine what treatment they should have for the “best possible” outcome to be achieved.

I have asked, in my response to the questionnaire, whether ULHT have drawn a circle, with Lincoln Hospital at the centre, and the distance to the circumference representing this “Golden” hour taking into account the likely time it would take, an ambulance, to get to a point on the circumference of this circle, and the time it would then take an ambulance to get the patient to hospital and that vital scan. It would certainly be interesting to see such a drawing. Unfortunately I believe it is highly likely that Grantham, and a substantial area around Grantham, is NOT within this “golden” circle! The question should then be asked – Is it acceptable for those who live “outside the circle” not to receive the treatment they require, for the best possible outcome, if they are unlucky enough to suffer a stroke!

Christopher Maughan

By email

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