Determined campaigners are not giving up the fight to get Grantham’s accident and emergency department reinstated 24 hours a day.
Since the unit was closed overnight on Wednesday, August 17, members and supporters of SOS Grantham Hospital (SOSGH) and Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital have stood outside the hospital entrance every Wednesday, whatever the weather, to hold candlelight vigils.
In the cold and in the rain, they have stood outside from 6.30pm – the time the A&E closes its doors, reopening at 9am.
Councillor Charmaine Morgan is chairman of SOSGH. She said: “The dedication of some residents to our weekly vigils has been amazing. It reflects how passionately people feel about our A&E.
“I haven’t been able to make every vigil due to other commitments but some campaigners have attended nearly all of them.
“They have not only been an opportunity to demonstrate against the hospital closure but also provided a chance for campaigners to share ideas and come together, especially those not online.
“The candles and torches are a symbol of hope. We know lives are at stake.”
David Feld and his partner Liz Wilson often attend the vigils. Mr Feld said: “I’ve been in Grantham since 1984 and have watched with interest the machinations of the various powers-that-be while they have slowly sliced away at the services which were offered by the hospital. We all remember the farce that attended the maternity unit. Now, the ULHT is again treating us like dirt and is trying to foist a minimal, or even non-existent, accident and emergency unit on us. I object to this in no uncertain terms; accidents and emergencies can happen at any time, not just during daytime.”
The decision to close Grantham’s emergency department for 14-and-a-half hours overnight was made by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), to relocate staff to its hospitals in Lincoln and Boston where numbers were low. The trust said the move would be in the best interests of patients across Lincolnshire as a whole.
Originally stated to be for a three-month period, in November ULHT said it had not recruited anough staff to reopen the A&E safely, and extended the closure into February/March.
Chief executive Jan Sobieraj said: “Our trust board will be reviewing the decision at the February board meeting, taking into account the most up to date position at that time.”