An annual meeting of the trust which runs Grantham Hospital was told there are no plans for the hospital to have a full A&E department.
Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), told the public meeting, at Grantham’s Guildhall on Tuesday, that the department would likely remain open 24 hours a day but serious cases would continue to be taken to Lincoln and other hospitals.
It is not acceptable to increase risks to local patients and visitors in the Grantham area now by cutting A&E services hereCoun Charmaine Morgan, chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital
He described the department at Grantham as a “bespoke urgent care centre”.
When asked by district and county councillor Ray Wootten what he meant by “bespoke”, Dr Kapadia said: “The first thing to recognise is that the emergency department at Grantham does not see everything. There is mitigation in place so that if you have a heart attack you bypass Grantham, if there are children EMAS knows not to bring paediatricts to Grantham, if you have a stroke you don’t come to Grantham, if you are vomiting blood you don’t come to Grantham, if you have got an acute surgical emergency you don’t come to Grantham. Therefore, I would suggest it’s really difficult to say that the Grantham emergency department is a true A&E department because so much is in place to stop people getting there. I have already mentioned that if you have got more than one fracture the aim is not to come to Grantham.
“As a consequence it would not be possible to say that it is an emergency department. However, we also recognise that it is not the minimum that would be expected for an urgent care centre. With an urgent care centre the expectation is that it is open a minimum of 16 hours. Grantham fits somewhere between the two. The aim is still to keep it open 24/7 but it wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination be a true A&E department with two locum consultants. Hence the term a ‘bespoke’ urgent care centre.”
According to the NHS website an urgent care centre will treat sprains and strains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns and scalds, minor head injuries, insect and animal bites, minor eye injuries, injuries to the back, shoulder and chest.
Coun Wootten reminded the trust that at last year’s annual meeting in Boston, former chief executive Jane lewington promised Grantham would get a day surgery unit, but six months later she said that managers had been told to go back to the drawing board as their plans were too expensive. He asked acting chief executive Kevin Turner if Grantham would still get a day surgery unit.
Mr Turner said he could not answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. He said: “We want to see an increase in the number of people we can treat. Our ambition is to have suffieicent day surgery cases on the site that we may have to build something. We will continue to work on a business case. We have to align that with the outcome of LHAC (Lincolnshire Health and Care).”
Coun Wootten told the Journal he was disappointed with Mr Turner’s reply. He said it was “undecisive” but added: “I do feel the future of Grantham Hospital is good.”
LHAC is a review which began in 2013 and includes all health service providers in the county who are working on a complete overhaul of health provision for Lincolnshire. Their proposals were due to go to public consultation in November, but this has been delayed until the new year.
Chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital Coun Charmaine Morgan said:” Dr Kapadia has stated at a review that our county needs a university hospital to attract and train new skilled staff. I support this long-term strategy but it is not acceptable to increase risks to local patients and visitors in the Grantham area now by cutting A&E services here. Newark Hospital campaigners have faced reduced services, too, creating a vacuum in acute emergency services in our area. On the contrary we should have more services including an acute stroke unit.
“When the trust first cut facilities at Grantham we warned it would affect both patient numbers and the ability of the trust to recruit staff. Unfortunately, we have been proved correct.”