Enough doctors have been taken on to allow Grantham’s A&E to reopen, according to several sources.
However, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), which runs Grantham Hospital, has refused to confirm or deny this figure and will only say that several doctors are locums, the number of which is “always fluctuating”.
Grantham MP Nick Boles is among those now calling for the A&E to reopen. In an open letter to ULHT chief executive Jan Sobieraj, following a meeting with him last Friday, he writes: “It is very encouraging that ULHT has managed to recruit the number of doctors required to reopen the A&E at Grantham Hospital overnight.
“ULHT and the South West Lincs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have always been clear that the temporary closure of A&E at nights became necessary because of staffing shortages across the trust.
“In view of the successful recruitment, I urge the CCG and ULHT board to agree the reopening of A&E at nights as soon as possible.
“Please could you write to me to confirm this is what you will be proposing at the next board meeting of the trust.”
ULHT has previously said it will reopen A&E once it has recruited 21 middle-grade doctors.
Earlier this year, when it was stated by ULHT that the total at that time was 19.6 middle grade doctors, Mr Sobieraj told the Journal: “While we are working hard to recruit doctors to work longer contracts, the reality is agency staff have the pick of places to work and often can leave a placement at short notice. In agreement with commissioners and our regulators, we agreed on setting the threshold of having a minimum of 21 registrars as this will help us to staff three rotas consistently and safely.”
This week, Dr Neill Hepburn, of ULHT, said: “Since our decision to reduce the opening hours of Grantham hospital’s A&E department, we have continued to work hard to recruit more doctors into our services.
“We have now been successful in securing four more permanent staff, taking our number of permanent middle grade doctors up to 15. We also have some temporary staff to boost our numbers.
“Before we can fully reopen A&E, we need to ensure we can cover all our A&E rotas, in order to provide the level of service required.
“We are now working with our partners to review our options and a formal decision will be made at our next board meeting on Tuesday, November 7.”
** For more on this story, pick up tomorrow’s Journal.