The fight to save NHS services at Grantham Hospital is to be stepped up following two ‘emergency’ meetings last weekend.
The Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire team called the meetings after it was claimed United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust planned to close orthopaedic trauma services at Grantham hospital - something the trust denies.
Campaigners believe that should the trauma service close, there would then be no chance A&E services could continue in Grantham and it would become an urgent care centre.
A Friday evening meeting at Grantham Railway Club attracted around 30 people, with around 40 attending a second meeting at Grantham Museum on Sunday.
At this second meeting former Grantham Hospital nurse Paul Lewis accuse ULHT bosses of removing services ‘by stealth with no public consultation’.
Campaigners and the public agreed they would email councillors, GPs, health board officials, MPs and councillors with their concerns. It would be a countywide campaign as any downgrading of services at Grantham would affect services at Lincoln and Boston. Campaigners will also attend meetings of the ULHT trust board, the clinical commission group, and Lincolnshire Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.
Stalls run by campaigners will be put up in St Peter’s Hill tomorrow, at the St George’s Day market next Saturday and at other events. The weekly vigils outside Grantham Hospital every Wednesday evening will continue.
MP Nick Boles is to meet next week with ULHT chief executive Jan Soberiaj about Grantham’s hospital services.
At Friday’s meeting, Melissa Darcey of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire said it was to be expected ULHT would say it was reviewing services before any closure, because if it undertook no consultation, its decisions could be legally challenged. The campaigner also claimed that Lincolnshire’s health scrutiny committee was not scrutinising NHS decisions in the county - something that was challenged by Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten.
Coun Wootten, who was present with wife Coun Linda Wootten, said although he was not on the scrutiny committee, he attended its meetings and could ask questions.
Melissa Darcey also said there was “a huge culture of bullying” at ULHT and “staff were too scared to come to the meeting.”
The Friday meeting also saw criticism of rival NHS campaign groups, leading to a plea for unity from Coun Mr Wootten, who also disputed the bullying claims.
A ULHT hospital spokesperson said after the meeting: “We are currently in the process of reviewing all our clinical services at all of our sites. No decisions have been made about possible changes to any services.
“We know that some of our staff don’t always feel comfortable raising concerns. The Trust is committed to listening to staff. We are open and responsive to concerns that are raised. This is why we recently introduced a freedom to speak up guardian to ensure staff who raise concerns are fully supported to do so. We have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and will investigate any allegations made robustly.”