Hospital trust bosses have met this morning (Tuesday) to discuss fully reopening Grantham’s A&E 24 hours a day.
The recommendation to reopen, not until December, was approved by the board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) – however it is subject to a staffing review which will be carried out over the next month by NHS Improvement.
Grantham A&E was closed overnight in August last year after staff were transferred to the other A&E units in Lincoln and Boston where there was a staffing crisis.
The review will look at the staffing model for all three A&Es, to ensure that before Grantham is reopened overnight, safe staffing levels can be maintained over the busy winter months.
A spokesman said the trust has been successful in securing the employment of more permanent, locum and agency middle grade doctors, which increases the number to 22 – slightly above the minimum of 21 middle grade doctors needed to safely staff the three A&Es at Grantham, Lincoln and Boston. But the trust says staffing rotas in the long-term still remain very challenging.
ULHT chief executive Jan Sobieraj said: “On behalf of ULHT, I would like to thank the people of Grantham for their support for reopening over the past year. We appreciate what a difficult time it has been for some people.
“I want to reassure people that the closure of the A&E on grounds of patient safety had nothing to do with long-term future for the hospital. We’ve always said we were committed to reopening when we had safe staffing numbers.
“We are now working with our partners to review the options on the long-term future of Grantham. We are committed to supporting local health commissioners in engaging local people in this important decision and we will share any developments.”
NHS Improvement has advised that it expects the review of A&E staffing to be completed within a month. Until this is completed the opening hours at Grantham A&E will remain 8am to 6.30pm.