Grantham A&E closure faces review as MPs and councillors meet PM and Health Minister
MPs and councillors were in London today to discuss the future of Grantham A&E following its closure overnight since August.
Grantham MP Nick Boles called for the meeting with the Prime Minister, Teresa May, and was joined by Sleaford MP Caroline Johnson and Newark MP Robert Jenrick. United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust announced in early February that it would not be fully re-opening the unit for at least another three months.
County councillors were also in the capital to meet the Minister of Health, Philip Dunne MP. Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill was joined by councillors Ray Wootten, Mark Whittington, Richard Davies, Adam Stokes and Sue Woolley. They were also joined by Mr Boles.
Mr Boles has been undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumour in his head since November, but has continued to stay involved with the campaign.
He said: “I was delighted to meet the Prime Minister together with Caroline Johnson MP and Robert Jenrick MP to discuss the closure of Grantham A&E at night. The Prime Minister appreciated the depth of public concern about the prolonged closure and confirmed that the Secretary of State for Health had agreed to involve the Independent Review Panel as requested by Lincolnshire County Council.
“We also discussed the problems with East Midlands Ambulance Service and explained why this undermined people’s faith in the safety of travelling long distances to A&E in Lincoln or Boston.”
The news of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s involvement follows Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to refer the overnight closures to his office earlier this year, and he has agreed to look in to the issue by writing to the Chair of the Independent Review Panel. The Chair, Lord Ribiero, and the rest of the panel will look at the issue initially to decide within 20 days whether a full review is necessary.
Speaking after the meeting with the Minister, Coun Hill said: “We appreciate the Minister finding the time to listen to the concerns of the local community we raised with him and welcome his commitment to investigate the issues we discussed further. Grantham needs a proper A&E facility and it is right that this is raised at the heart of government. We are delighted that our concerns have been taken straight to the PM and a potential review has been announced into the Grantham A&E situation.”
Mr Boles added: ”It was great to meet with Philip Dunne MP, minister of state at the Department for Health, and county councillors from the Grantham area to discuss the ongoing closure of Grantham A&E at nights. I am delighted that the minister was able to confirm that the Secretary of State for Health has initiated the referral of the case to the independent panel. Local Conservative councillors and I will continue to do everything we can to put pressure on ULHT to recruit enough staff to reopen Grantham A&E 24/7.”
Coun Wootten said: “It was a really positive meeting and I am pleased the Minister took the time to meet us. He was very interested in our campaign and the views of the residents of Grantham many of whom will be turning out for the rally on Saturday.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked for the overnight closure of Grantham A&E to be investigated following calls from Lincolnshire’s Health Scrutiny Committee.
The Secretary of State has today written to Coun Christine Talbot, chairman of Lincolnshire’s Health Scrutiny Committee, to inform her that the matter has been passed to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) for review.
Coun Talbot referred the matter to the Secretary of State at the end of last year. She said: “I’m delighted the Secretary of State has listened to our concerns and asked the IRP to investigate. When we referred the issue to the Secretary we did not believe that overnight services would be reinstated in February as planned, and those fears proved to be well-founded.
“I’m confident that the IRP will agree that a full review is warranted, and I look forward to being able to present our case in full.
“ULHT needs to realise that the people of Grantham deserve better. I hope today’s decision will underline that this is not something we will let rest.”
Mr Hunt has asked the IRP to present its initial assessment of whether a full review is necessary by March 22.