'We need a new hospital to serve town and county'
A campaign to raise enough support for a brand new hospital in Grantham has been backed by politicians and health professionals.
But the petition launched by health campaigner Jody Clark, of Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital, needs the backing of the community so that the dream of a new hospital serving the people of Grantham and the county can eventually be realised.
Jody, who lives in Ropsley with her husband and two autistic sons, launched the petition in February on the petition.parliament.uk website. It has so far attracted more than 2,200 signatures, but Jody wants to see it reach at least 10,000 which will mean it receives a response from the government. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be debated in Parliament.
To sign the petition go to petition.parliament.uk/petitions/242302
Still fighting for the return of a full A&E service to Grantham, Jody says a new site with new facilities in an expanding town will give the fight for A&E more weight. The A&E unit in Grantham was closed overnight in August 2016.
She said: “Now we are at the stage where we will keep shouting that we need the A&E and we need 24-hour access. Not 111 access where we are at the moment.
“At the same time we thought well why don’t we see if can produce something new and if we can get some kind of agreement with the main organisations involved then it may be possible – let’s get on with my idea of building a new hospital and see where we run with that.
“If we made something that was state-of-the-art, environmentally and economically sustainable so that it was a first of its kind in the country, putting all services together on one site, it would reduce the costs to run all of those services separately because it would all be on one unit. You would negate the maintenance costs because it would be a new build so in effect the trust would have their maintenance money to spend on improving Lincoln and Boston so it would improve the health of all of Lincolnshire not just us.
“We could incorporate patients from the Spalding side of Lincolnshire who often go to Peterborough rather than stay in Lincolnshire. The A52 would make the new hospital on the barracks site easier to access for people from Spalding. That keeps the Lincolnshire pound in Lincolnshire, and the money regenerates local services rather than paying for services out of county.”
After taking part in the recent Healthy Conversation consultation in Grantham, Jody said it had been suggested to her by those working on the future of local health services that the focus should “go one better with a health and social care campus” so that hospital services could be combined with other services such as GP practices and mental health all in one purpose-built unit.
Jody has suggested the site of the Prince William of Gloucester barracks would be ideal for a new hospital.
She said: “The bottom end could remain residential and be used by NHS staff and the top could be a health and social care campus.
“There could be three access points around the site which means a bus could run round dropping patients off and picking people up. They could even put an ambulance and fire station hub there.
“If you relocated those services so that it remained community owned and NHS run you could offset the cost from the sale off the fire and ambulance sites. Those locations could become residential and they are all within easy access of the town centre.
“If there is an offset from those sites local businesses surely want better services for workers so they could be incentivised into investing in the new build and having a little bit of ownership of it. I know businesses contributed to the Lincolnshire Heart Centre. Even if it’s just a case of contributing to a few bricks.
“If we all have a bit of a say on it we can insist on having the resuscitation and stabilisation area and the means of upgrading to the critical care that you need for the critical care services. So as the town grows and the new health and social care campus attracts staff as well as the medical school, we may find ourselves in the position by the time the Southern Quadrant development is finished that we could justify having the A&E services and critical care services back. So we want to make sure the new build is able to be upscaled as soon as we are able to.
“Where the hospital is now it cannot be expanded.
“The maintenance costs and the reconfiguration of services for things to work together under the long term plan, all of those things will cost lots and lots of money to put right where it is. So why would you invest in something which can’t be expanded when the reality with all the development going on in town is that we are going to need a hospital that can be expanded.”
Jody urged anyone who lives in Grantham or the county to sign the online petition. She said: “Anyone with an email can sign the petition, anyone in the UK can sign and so I would encourage people to share with their family and friends because it doesn’t matter who in the UK signs it. People may have been living in town or have family in town and still want to see better services here.”
Jody says she has had solid support from local health providers. She says Healthwatch, the local health watchdog, says a new-build hospital has been on the cards for a decade, especially in the southern part of the county to incorporate Spalding because it is this area that has not had any investment.
Jody added: “If a developer wants the southern quadrant or the barracks area, you could make a deal with them to say we want the health and social care campus here, so if you contribute towards building that you can have the Manthorpe site and the other areas for residential development and it would surely be an incentive to them because it would be more prime land for them. It would also be more accessible housing than that built half way up a hill.”
Jody says says the priority is to get a fully functional A&E back in town. She said: “The aim is still the same just the means of getting there is different.”
New hospital in Grantham is given support
Jody Clark says the support she has for her campaign and her petition for a new hospital has been “fantastic”.
She said: “When I started this I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into. From my kitchen in Ropsley, starting a Facebook group, I thought I can’t be the only one angry about the A&E closure. Let’s see how many other people are angry about it.
“The fact that it got over 10,000 people within the first few months blew me away. All of a sudden I am in charge of a march a month later. And here we are two and a half years later. How on earth did this happen?
“The local community has kept me going.”
Mr Boles told the Journal this week: “Grantham is due to see thousands of new homes being built in the coming years. I strongly support F4GH campaign’s arguments in favour of a new hospital so that the whole community can share in the benefits of the town’s expansion.”
Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill said: “I fully support Jody’s petition and have signed it. A new more accessible hospital with better links to other health and care facilities is just what this area needs. Instead of spending money repairing the current ageing buildings, it would make sense for the NHS to invest in modern facilities instead.”
Dr David Baker, a Grantham GP and chair of the South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said a new hospital in Grantham was not unfeasible but any new build would only likely incorporate the services now seen at Grantham Hospital and an elective surgery centre to serve the county.
County health campaigner Pauline Mountain said: “I am in support of Jody with regards to the development of a fit for purpose hospital provision that would serve the county, from a personal perspective and, indeed, my own organisation HOPELINKs Ltd also supports a robust proposal.”