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Grantham Journal column: Visitors’ A&E shock

By Dr Gillian Sutherland

Peter Clawson.
Peter Clawson.

Forty-odd years ago, two American girls who stayed with us in Grantham on an exchange visit cried when the time came to go home.

They had been warned before coming to be wary of a lack of hygiene, possible violence and other dangers while in the ‘old’ country.

But after a few weeks living in reality, their opinions altered dramatically and they didn’t want to go home.

So you can imagine how I felt on meeting a young American doctor in our town recently, who had experienced exactly the opposite emotions.

He and his wife and son were visitng his local born father, who had emigrated to the States some time ago and then returned to this area to spend his later years in his hometown.

The young doctor, his wife and son, with another child on the way, had arrived in Grantham with high expectations of the place.

Reality, however, proved a totally different experience in their case.

They actually found us a very friendly and hospitable community living in pleasant rural surroundings. But what shocked them to the core and put them off wanting to stay and live and work here, was the curernt state of affairs regarding Grantham Hospital.

The American viewpoint was that a town of 40,000 or more inhabitants should have a fully equipped, funcitonal hospital with a guaranteed settled future.

‘How can you put up with what could soon amount to a cottage hospital without even a proper, 24-hour A&E department?’ he asked.

The shabby treatment and disillusioned departure of junior doctors by the NHS meant he didn’t rate his job prospects if he stayed.

So when asked shere he would prefer to live, here or the USA, even with its own health problems, not wishing to offend me, his sadexpression said it all.

‘What do you think?’ was all he would say.


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