Grantham Hospital campaigners plan protest ahead of consultation on loss of A&E

Protestors are preparing to gather in the centre of Grantham next week to voice their disapproval of plans to shake up A and E services in the county.

A poster for the planned protest at Grantham. EMN-210510-174502001

The plans proposed by health bosses include turning the daytime-only A and E at Grantham Hospital into a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre - the nearest facility for many Sleaford people.

Melissa Darcey of campaign group Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire is encouraging people to make their voices heard on Thursday October 14 from 5pm ahead of a public consultation at 6.30pm on the closure of Grantham A&E and the removal of the linked acute medicine from the hospital to Lincoln as well as the centralisation of time critical services in Lincolnshire.

This is the first consultation exercise announced for Grantham.

NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group launched a 12 week public consultation on a series of plans covering the four service areas of Orthopaedic surgery, Urgent and Emergency Care in Grantham, Acute Medical beds and Stroke services in the county on Thursday.

Bosses say the changes will result in better access to urgent and emergency care, shorter waiting times, fewer cancellations of planned procedures and better retention of staff.

The changes include:

Grantham and District Hospital A&E department to become a 24/7 urgent treatment centre – Bosses say that the change would mean that around 97% of patients currently seen by the A&E would continue to be treated, and access overall would increase. They say the “few” patients with the highest level of need would receive care in the most appropriate and safest place for them,

The hospital would also see its acute and community beds integrated together – meaning the vast majority of patients in acute medical beds would then be able to be treated in the same hospital. This would be safer and more comprehensive and enable greater integration with community health and care services while reducing pressure on Lincoln and Pilgrim Hospital, explain health leaders.

Grantham will be a “Centre of Excellence” for planned Orthopaedic surgery, with unplanned operations going instead to Lincoln and Pilgrim Hospital – A pilot scheme has already demonstrated how this would work. Bosses say this would reduce cancellations of planned operations, leading to a knock on reduction of waiting lists, as well as creating a more attractive service to retain staff. As part of the plans Louth would also become a dedicated day centre.

Stroke services would be centralised at Lincoln – This would remove the service from Boston, but bosses say it will create another “Centre of Excellence”. They hope the change will reflect a similar move with heart attacks a number of years ago which bosses said has made a positive impact.

Ms Darcey says: “Our town is so evidently passionate about keeping our services within our local hospital.

“We will be holding a static protest on St Peter’s Hill Green (in Grantham town centre) starting at 5pm on Thursday October 14. We aim to make as much noise as possible as we join together in unison to say ‘no’ to cuts to our local healthcare services.”

Dr Dave Baker, GP and Clinical Lead at the CCG, said no beds would be lost and that service at Grantham Hospital would be maintained as it is now – but with 24/7 access. “It also future proofs us a little bit,” he added.

“We know the population is increasing, so if we’ve got a more innovative service that actually really aims to keep people out of hospital where possible, then, even with that population increasing, and lots more frail elderly patients look after we’ll have sufficient capacity.”

Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) medical director Yvonne Owen added that “we’re not losing anything here at all”.

“I think some campaigners are concerned that that the service is being downgraded from an A&E to a UTC, but that’s not the case at all,” she said.

She said with the current model, when Boston and Lincoln go into winter, there was a much higher chance that planned operations would be cancelled, but having a dedicated site would protect that.

“Bringing it all onto one site means that there will be protection so that people you know who need an operation will be able to get it in a more timely manner.”

The proposals are also hoping to tackle a shortage of specialist doctors, nurses and therapists.

Dr Abdul Elmarimi, Consultant for the Stroke Service at United Lincolnshire Hospitals, said: “The current status of not having enough stroke specialist clinicians has created a work environment that isn’t healthy for our teams and isn’t conducive to sustaining the stroke service as it should be.

“What we’re proposing is we bring all these people together, so that we can retain the best talent, we can attract more of these people to look after our patients.”

Campaigners have already raised some concerns over transport, and the availability of beds, but bosses say they have been reassured enough by their organisations and those such as East Midlands Ambulance Service, to move forward with the proposals.

The consultation ends on December 23.

Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire believe the NHS should be returned to public hands as a comprehensive health service accessible to everyone with no emphasis on ability to pay.

They continue to campaign for everyone to have access to high quality local healthcare services as part of a fully funded, publicly owned, publicly provided, managed and delivered National Health Service.