Executives on the trust which runs Grantham hospital are recommending that the town’s A&E unit is fully reopened over the winter.
If United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) board decides to fully re-open the unit, the decision will then be subject to NHS Improvement approval as part of its A&E staffing review which will be carried out over the next month.
ULHT says it has always been committed to fully reopening the A&E as soon as it is safe to do so, and says over the past year we have been working hard to recruit and retain doctors.
Grantham A&E was closed overnight in August last year after staff were transferred to the other A&E units wherre there was a staffing crisis.
A spokesman said the trust has been successful in securing the employment of more permanent, locum and agency middle grade doctors, which increases the number to 22 - slightly above the minimum of 21 middle grade doctors needed to safely staff the three A&Es at Grantham, Lincoln and Boston. But the trust says staffing rotas in the long-term still remain very challenging.
Neill Hepburn, ULHT medical director, said: “The staffing situation is volatile and constantly changing as we are still very reliant on short-term agency doctors, many of whom only work occasional shifts. There is also a shortage of A&E nurses, which is placing pressures on an already creaking service.
“Before Grantham A&E can reopen, we need to be confident that we can staff rotas for at least 12 weeks. This is to avoid the scenario of reopening A&E one day, to then close the next day due to a lack of staff.
“However, as we have 22 middle grade doctors, the Trust’s executive team and clinical management board are both recommending that the Trust Board agrees to reopen Grantham’s A&E to help Lincolnshire’s NHS services cope this winter. The Board will formally consider whether it is safe to fully reopen on Tuesday.
“If the Board agrees to the reopening, the decision will then be subject to NHS Improvement approval before any changes happen. NHS Improvement has advised that they expect their review of A&E staffing to be completed within a month, so opening hours will remain 8am to 6.30pm until further notice.”