A proposal to keep A&E at Grantham but cut it down to a 16-hour service could go to public consultation in May.
A meeting of the county’s health professionals and managers met on Wednesday to discuss proposals for the future of healthcare in the county.
One of the areas discussed was urgent care and the future of Grantham A&E. Under the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), a blueprint for the shape of healthcare over the next five years, it has been proposed that an urgent care centre replace the town’s A&E.
But it is believed the option of retaining an A&E for 16 hours a day with a nurse-led unit for the rest of the day is being considered.
Ben Bradley, who is standing in for Grantham MP Nick Boles while he undergoes cancer treatment, was at the meeting. Mr Bradley said: “It’s a step in the right direction because the option of an urgent care centre seems to have gone out of the window. With an urgent care centre, half the patients who go to Grantham would then be sent to Lincoln, which is not achievable.”
Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, said the new proposal was “quite a big achievement”.
She added: “It’s looking hopeful but this is only part of the process.
“This would be one option for consultation, but it’s much better than what was proposed before.”
Jody questioned why a 16-hour A&E service could not be a 24-hour service when doctors at Grantham often worked four hours beyond closing time to treat patients and find a ward or an ambulance for transfer.
Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) says three proposals were considered for Grantham Hospital including returning to the service before August 2016, with a fully operational 24 hr A&E service but with the same restrictions on the seriousness of conditions that can be treated in Grantham, moving to a new 24 hour A&E centre still able to take medical admissions but with a different workforce, or moving to an urgent care centre facility.
Speaking after the event, Allan Kitt, Chief Officer of South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We have had a detailed, evidence-based discussion today with some of our leading doctors, senior managers and local stakeholders to look at a range of options for changing our health services. While we didn’t all agree on every proposal, we’ve been able to have an informed and frank discussion about the impact of the proposals put forward.
“This is a key part of the process to get us to a stage where we are ready to share the final proposals with the public. There are some difficult decisions to be made as some of these challenges have been ducked for too long. We are all committed to improving outcomes for the people of Lincolnshire and that means building on what works well, but being prepared to make changes if we want a modern, effective service.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the event and attended. We’re now one step closer to the public consultation.”