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'We want answers over A&E closure'




Councillors are demanding answers over the continued overnight closure of Grantham A&E, with the ongoing uncertainty described as ‘outrageous’.

Lincolnshire councillors will write to the Secretary of State for Health again to demand answers on the ongoing, controversial overnight closure of Grantham A&E.

Chair of the health scrutiny panel for Lincolnshire, Carl Macey, said the committee took the decision after receiving no response from the government in December following an intervention by the Minister of State in the matter.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust closed the department overnight in August 2016, a move which it said was “temporary”.

Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten attended the meeting on Wednesday. He said: “It is outrageous that Grantham Hospital A&E has been closed overnight, to date 889 days have now passed, two and a half years since the August, 16, 2016.

“The closure has caused anger amongst local councillors, campaign groups and residents. Whatever the outcome, good or bad, it is only right that we know what the future plans are for our much loved hospital.”

The decision has since been referred to the Secretary of State twice by the county council. But the Minister of State wrote to both United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and South Lincolnshire CCG asking for an update on the closure in September last year.

The government’s Independent Reconfiguration Panel backed the trust’s decision, but added that a consultation should be carried out on the future of the service.

The panel published the advice in August 2017 following a referral from the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire to the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

However, the committee referred the decision to the Secretary of State after no action was taken by the health trust.

Now, Councillor Macey has said the matter has gone on “far too long” and that people of Grantham deserve answers. “We decided to write to the Secretary of State because we were advised that by December 28 a plan about how the trust would move forward with Grantham A&E would be disseminated to us,” he said.

“This would mean we could actually give some kind of response to the residents of Grantham who are absolutely desperate to know what is happening with their provision.”

He added that the committee would push for the trust’s response to be released publicly by the government.

ULHT have previously said that the “long term plan” for Grantham A&E is part of the STP and will form part of their public consultation.

Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital said: “In December 2017 I contacted Coun Macey and spoke at the committee meeting. I shared the ULHT response to a Freedom of Information request from SOS Grantham Hospital that proved the important role of Grantham A&E saving the lives of people with a wide range of critical conditions. This contrasted with public statements by ULHT board members that our A&E unit was little more than an Urgent Care Centre.

“After assistance from Nick Boles MP, I received a recent letter from the Health Minister which shows Government ministers remain wedded to the statements made by ULHT and are waiting for the Lincolnshire STP to determine the fate of our A&E. This is quite outrageous given the evidence provided, which includes the range and seriousness of illnesses handled.

“As a result I have contacted the Chief of Police calling for an investigation into Misconduct in Public Office. I have yet to hear a response but am persuing this course of action.

“In the meanwhile we are reliant on a crumbling under resourced A&E network. I recently sat with an injured family member for eight hours at QMC Nottingham A&E. That night the A&E waiting times (checked before we travelled) were four hours at QMC, Lincoln was over four hours, Peterborough was six hours and Leicester refused to provide a time.

“We discovered QMC is on black alert. We need Grantham A&E re-opened at night and with our ambulance service still struggling to meet key targets, lives remain at

risk.”

Another hospital campaigner, Jodie Clark, described the wait for a response as ‘ludicous’.

Jody said: “After us all fighting so hard to raise the injustices of the ongoing overnight closure, it is just ludicrous that we are left, still waiting for answers, two and a half years on!

“Our residents face a postcode lottery at night and its just unacceptable.

“We need those solutions and our overnight service back, as soon as possible! We all deserve so much better!”

Lincolnshire STP said: “We can confirm that we have replied to the minister’s letter and
any release of our response would have to come from the minister’s office.”



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