Impact on ambulances due to A&E night closure at Grantham

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Night-time closures of Grantham Hospital’s A&E department are having a knock-on effect on the ambulance service, says its general manager.

But we have received contradictory claims from the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which told the Journal this week that there “hasn’t been an increase in ambulances transferring patients from the Grantham area to Lincoln or Pilgrim”.

On average, between Monday and Friday during the night East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) takes seven patients to Grantham’s A&E department, a number which can increase over the weekend.

Blanche Lentz, EMAS general manager for Lincolnshire, said: “The temporary closure means that on average we are taking seven patients at night further afield for their treatment. This results in additional travel time, additional miles covered and more behind the scenes work to ensure we have ambulance resources covering the areas that require them.

“It’s still early days and together with ULHT and our commissioners we are monitoring the impact the temporary change has had on our service; we have not been commissioned to increase the number of ambulances available during this temporary change.”

However, Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director for ULHT, claims “there hasn’t been an increase in attendances to Lincoln and Pilgrims A&Es, to GP out of hours service or an increase in ambulances transferring patients from the Grantham area to Lincoln or Pilgrim”.

He added: “We are monitoring the situation daily and working with local partners to provide safe services for the population of Lincolnshire.”

Patients are reminded by both EMAS and ULHT to only use A&E if they have an emergency care need or have had a serious accident. Dr Kapadia said: “Many could be seen and treated elsewhere such as NHS 111, pharmacist or GP and often could be seen quicker. We ask people whose condition is neither an accident nor an emergency to consider one of the alternatives.”