Grantham’s A&E is likely to be a pivotal issue at a by-election next month as a doctor and a nurse stand among 10 candidates for the Parliamentary seat.
The Conservatives have chosen Dr Caroline Johnson, 38, to contest the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat, a constituency which includes the area north of Grantham from Barrowby.
Dr Johnson is a consultant paediatrician who lives in Sudbrook near Ancaster.
Also putting her name forward for the election is Sarah Stock, a nurse, who will stand as an Independent.
Ms Stock, of Billingborough, is a member of campaign group Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital and has campaigned for the restoration of a full 24-hour emergency service at Grantham A&E since the unit was closed overnight by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT)on August 17.
The trust has extended the closure, between 9am and 6.30pm, for another three months.
Speaking to the Journal, Dr Johnson, a mother-of-three married to a farmer, said that she wanted to see Grantham A&E opened 24 hours again.
She said: “I am a children’s doctor and the NHS is something close to my heart.
“My husband’s life was saved on two occasions by A&E and I understand the NHS as a consultant.
“I believe therefore I have the knowledge and understanding that’s needed to solve this and to ensure A&E can open around the clock.”
Dr Johnson added: “I was elected as a candidate on Thursday and by Friday I was meeting with Jeremy Hunt to talk about it and what it means locally to have a 24-hour A&E.”
Dr Johnson said she voted to leave the EU in this year’s referendum, as did Stephen Phillips, whose resignation as an MP led to the by-election.
Dr Johnson said: “I think the key point here is that only a Conservative victory will strengthen the Government majority and ensure the Government can get on with the job of triggering Article 50. A vote for anyone else undermines that process.
“I am looking forward to speaking to many local residents across Sleaford and North Hykeham in the coming weeks to discuss the issues that matter most to them and their families.”
Dr Johnson is the mother of two girls and a boy. She is from Middlesbrough originally and lived in Newark before moving to Sudbrook.
Meanwhile, Ms Stock said she decided to stand in the election to give local people a voice which was not being heard in Parliament.
She told the Journal: “My biggest aim is to give the voice of the people back to Parliament. I am fed up with dictatorships. I think the people of Linconshire are irritated by it.
“I do not think we are asking the earth to have A&E reopened. We are just asking for what is fair.”
Ms Stock was brought up in Ruskington and attended Kesteven and Sleaford High School. She trained as a registered nurse at the Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, qualifying in 1992. She has three children at secondary schools locally.
Ms Stock added: “With the downgrading of local hospitals, the national agenda for changes to our NHS is not working for Lincolnshire and a rural strategy needs to be actioned urgently. Emergency support services in our large rural area are struggling, with potentially serious consequences for residents, and small market towns like Sleaford and North Hykeham need putting back on the map. The reliance on apathy and the feeling that we cannot effect change, is almost expected it seems. Not any more. Lincolnshire needs to be heard.”
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