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Local lives matter! Let's keep up the pressure on MP and ULHT

Column by Lee Steptoe, Labour member for Grantham Earlesfield on South Kesteven District Council

Most people support our fantastic NHS.

It saved my life in 2017 when I had an acute heart attack and I will be eternally grateful.

Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)
Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)

There is a national consensus that free healthcare is something that should be cherished.

Unfortunately, since 2010 it has been chronically underfunded and is really struggling to meet the demands of the 21st Century, including in mental health.

Most areas of the country have suffered from government underfunding and this is certainly the case locally.

Since August 2016 we have not had a 24/7 accident and emergency service at our district hospital. This is well documented, and I salute the hardy campaigners that participate in a vigil every Wednesday evening to mark the demise of evening A&E services.

There are no easy answers, especially with the re-election of the Tories.

I recently had a meeting with the latest interim chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Andrew Morgan, along with other Labour colleagues. In a small, shabby office the message he delivered was just as bleak: the trust is a total of £350 million in debt; it has a yearly overspend of around £90 million; it is literally borrowing every month just to pay staff wages.

The trust remains in ‘special measures’ so is not judged to be providing adequate services.

The sense of hierarchy in the trust was also confirmed with the pecking order being Lincoln then Boston then Grantham, followed by Louth.

We pressed Mr Morgan to at least consider a ‘sticking plaster’ of reopening 24/7 A&E during what remained of winter.

He clearly has no intention.

He recently told the Journal: “The emerging option is to develop an emergency treatment centre at Grantham…this would replace the current restricted A&E service.”

Let’s be clear: this would be a downgrade on the full Level 1 A&E we desperately need and had until 2016.

What also became clear is that any idea of a new build hospital, on the site of the current barracks, is a red herring; far in the future at best.

So the fight to save our A&E must go on at the forthcoming latest ‘consultation’.

As local Tory councillors pass meaningless resolutions, I would remind readers that it’s their government that has restructured the NHS into its current bureaucratic, opaque form whilst making cuts that have slashed our A&E.

Let’s keep up the pressure on ULHT and our new Tory MP.

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