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It is vital we have our say on Grantham Hospital services as consultation starts

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The public are being asked for their views on the future of emergency and acute services at Grantham Hospital.

The future of A&E at Grantham will be decided following the consultation which is running now until December 23, 2021, by

NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Grantham’s A&E department was closed overnight in June 2016 and is only open from 8am to 6.30pm.

Grantham Hospital (51773531)
Grantham Hospital (51773531)

The CCG says its preferred option is to replace A&E with a 24/7 urgent treatment centre (UTC).

Full details of all the ways to get involved can be found on the Lincolnshire NHS website at www.lincolnshire.nhs.uk

Campaigners are furious that emergency services could be permanently removed, but the CCG says 97 per cent of patients currently in A&E at Grantham could be treated in the proposed UTC and that this will provide 24/7 walk-in urgent care services.

The services being consulted on are urgent and emergency care at Grantham hospital, acute medicine at Grantham Hospital, orthopaedics (elective and non-elective) countywide, and stroke services countywide.

Dr David Baker, Grantham GP and clinical lead at the CCG, said: “Expert clinicians from across our local NHS have worked extremely hard over the past few years to develop the proposals in this consultation, prioritising what is safest and best for our patients within the constraints that we have.

“I have worked in our A&E on and off for a number of years and I can categorically say that it hasn’t operated as an A&E department for many, many years.”

Dr Baker said the back-up services, such as acute surgery and obstetrics, needed so a full A&E can operate do not exist at Grantham. “In my professional opinion this model for an urgent treatment centre is absolutely the right thing to do. The positive thing about this is that this is going to restore a 24/7 model and I can categorically say that the number of people that will be accessing this will be significantly higher than has been the case since 2016 (when A&E was closed overnight).

He added: “I also see it as a positive for those people who are more acutely unwell because they will be taken to the right hospital. For that three per cent they are going to get the best care they can.”

Dr Baker said that he, as a Grantham GP, understood the concerns of Grantham people but added: “For me this provides a real long-term sustainable model for Grantham. It’s going to remove that uncertainty. That means we can track better quality staff and patients are going to get a better service as a result of it.”

Campaigners have been fighting for years to save services at Grantham Hospital, particularly A&E, but many feel the future of A&E has already been decided.

Melissa Darcey, of Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, said: “The plans are in place, the services have been cut to the point where we already have a level 3 A&E (mostly) and not the level 10 A&E we had prior to the closure and subsequent downgrading of services in August 2016.

This is a predetermined consultation, we all already know what the outcome will be as it has been written in plans since at least 2014....this is nothing more than a tick-box process to cover their backs. Everyone needs to be a part of this consultation, you cannot let your voices go unheard.”

Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, said: “We have waited years for this chance to share our views on local health services. As we were aware from the “Healthy Conversations” events, we will not be offered an A&E. The options include a 24 hour Urgent Treatment Centre.

“I hope everyone shares their views, including how they feel about the loss of A&E. But a bit of relief that we will finally get a future model and we will know what we will have available. We will keep finding ways to protect and improve our services at Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital and will be sharing the consultation too."

District councillor Ray Wootten, who represents the area where the hospital is located, said: “The Acute Service Review report calling for Grantham Hospital to become a Urgent Treatment Centre 24/7 instead of an A&E clearly demonstrates to me that residents, campaigners and local councillors’ voices have been totally disregarded. The Urgent Treatment Centre provided an excellent service when it was open and I heard only positive feedback but it is NOT an A&E. I will still campaign and support calls for a new hospital for Grantham and surrounding District as our population continues to expand and travel to other hospitals are expensive. I ask that when the consultation comes to your home that as many of you engage by continuing to make your views known.”

Councillor Linda Wootten, vice-chair of Lincolnshire health scrutiny committee, said: “I see this as the streamlining of services from a clinical, operational and financial point of view, and in Grantham’s case, dismisses what the local people want which is a 24/7 A&E service.”

Anyone wanting to take part in the consultation can complete a questionnaire on the CCG website. Alongside this, will be a range of other ways to get involved including public meetings, virtual meetings, marketplace meet-ups and website events. In addition, the website and social media pages will be sharing the latest information links to the questionnaire.

The CCG says it is particularly keen to hear from seldom heard groups and those who are economically disadvantaged and will be working closely with its engagement teams and members of the voluntary sector to ensure as many people as possible are given a voice.

It says it will continue to share information through its hospital sites, GP practices, and other venues to ensure people remain fully up-to-date throughout the consultation.

Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, said: "ULHT and the CCG frequently review the provision of key services. This latest consultation is hugely important and could have serious ramifications for the people not only in Grantham but across our county. It is really important as many people as possible take part. The review in 2016 had responses from a few hundred participants. Over 120,000 people are potentially affected by any changes in Grantham Hospital catchment area alone. Likely to increase to 150,000 over the next decade or so.

"In December 2018 we were told at a ULHT board meeting that NHS Improvement were challenging the presence of three A&E units in Lincolnshire. It was largely as a result of this board members did not reinstate 24/7 A&E service at Grantham District Hospital when they had the resources to do so. They were told to complete a cross county Acute Service Review. Due to a number of reasons this was delayed.

"The delay has meant the previous landscape has changed dramatically with continued staffing difficulties and Covid 19 putting huge pressure and added risk on ULHT resources and our communities.

"But, despite all this, the fact remains the response of the public consultations held do not compare to the petition signed by over 80,000 residents and visitors to Grantham over a year. That message was very clear. There can be no downgrading of our A&E and Acute services at Grantham District Hospital. This message remains."

John Turner, Chief Executive of NHS Lincolnshire CCG said: “Through our Healthy Conversation engagement exercise in 2019, we heard that the people of Lincolnshire want high quality services, delivered in local communities, and that we need to preserve our hospital services for those who really need it.

“This public consultation exercise is the next step in this listening exercise, where we can for the first time reveal the full background of our thinking, the challenges that we face and the recommendations which we believe will best serve our population.”

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