The overnight closure of Grantham’s A&E department should no longer be considered as temporary, an independent review panel on behalf of the Government has said.
In addition, the closure will not be subject to a full government review, it has been confirmed this morning (Monday).
The fear that this ‘temporary closure’ would be anything but temporary, has proved to be entirely foundedCoun Martin Hill
The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has accepted advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) that a full review into the decision by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) to close Grantham’s A&E overnight – between 6.30pm and 8am – is not necessary.
This follows a referral from Lincolnshire’s health scrutiny committee in November 2016, which the Secretary of State asked the IRP to look into in February this year.
Councillor Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is a disappointing result. The fear that this ‘temporary closure’ would be anything but temporary, has proved to be entirely founded.
“It is unacceptable that Grantham district has had a substantial change to hospital services for over a year without proper consultation or planning.
“I would urge NHS partners to start that process urgently so that local people can have some certainty about the future.”
In their report, the IRP agreed with the committee that the closure can no longer be considered temporary and should not be referred to as such.
Neither ULHT nor the IRP are disputing the committee’s view that the overnight closure constitutes a ‘substantial variation in healthcare provision’ in the area.
The IRP report suggests that ULHT should have discussed the staffing issues and possible knock-on effects with the committee prior to the closure. They also acknowledge that this has led the committee to be distrustful of the information that ULHT has provided, and about the nature of the ‘temporary’ closure.
Coun Hill said: “I welcome the IRP recommendation that an honest and open appraisal of future options for emergency care in Lincolnshire should be carried out, and that public engagement and consultation is needed. I would hope that NHS organisations would take note specifically in discussing the options for future healthcare in Grantham.”
The health scrutiny committee for Lincolnshire will consider the full IRP report at its meeting on September 13.