The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has called the plan to close Grantham’s A&E department at night ‘disappointing, yet unsurprising’.
The single authoritative body for emergency medicine in the UK, it has issued a statement following the news today that the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust wants to close Grantham’s unit overnight because there are too few doctors to man it safely.
The RCEM fears such closures could become common across the country.
The college said: “The unfortunate consequence of insufficient doctors is that there is sometimes a patient safety issue in continuing to offer services which are unsustainable.
“For some time now some local systems have become increasingly fragile due to the resourcing challenges.”
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, added: “The great efforts made by doctors and nurses to help patients in under-resourced locations sometimes is not sustainable.
“As well as potentially putting patient safety at risk, placing an ever increasing workload on overstretched staff can create a vicious circle in retention and recruitment with many overworked trainees simply choosing to leave the country or indeed the specialty altogether.
“The wider picture is there is a real crisis in emergency medicine as our workforce numbers are not growing fast enough to keep pace with rising numbers of patients attending A&E departments.”
In a bid to ease the pressure on emergency departments, the RCEM has previously made recommendations to ‘address the significant challenges facing A&Es’ and is using the closure plans for Grantham A&E to raise their profile, urging NHS leaders to consider them.