1,700 back rallying call for Grantham A&E to be restored

An online petition calling for the restoration of a full A&E service at Grantham Hospital attracted more than 1,000 signatures within 24 hours of its launch.

A&E, Grantham Hospital
A&E, Grantham Hospital

The petition was launched last week by local councillor Charmaine Morgan and overnight attracted 1,000 signatures. Many left comments on the site, showing the strong feeling in support of a local A&E service.

Coun Morgan, chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital, said: “I have had a lot of supportive emails. I’m aiming for 21,000 signatures to send the clear message about how much the unit means to us all.”

The petition had 1,669 signatures at the time of going to press yesterday (Thursday). Coun Morgan said: “I am really pleased so many people responded so quickly. I am pleased not only with the signatures but also the many comments left on the site from patients and staff.”

Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten, right, meets the new chairman of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Dean Fathers.

Bosses at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), which runs Grantham Hospital, have revealed that a proposal to downgrade A&E at Grantham to an urgent care centre is likely to go out to public consultation later this year as part of a package of changes proposed for Lincolnshire, put together by 
Lincolnshire Health and 
Care (LHAC).

Coun Morgan said: “The news that Grantham A&E is to be downgraded to an urgent care unit is hugely concerning. Our NHS staff do a fantastic job on the frontline, delivering the best care they can in increasingly challenging circumstances.

“The ULHT decision demonstrates that, despite serious issues at Lincoln County Hospital worsening, the board is determined to go against the wishes of local people in South Lincolnshire and continue its centralisation plans, even though the mainline railway and A1 carry thousands of travellers at high speed daily through our county every day, and the population supported by Grantham Hospital is approximately 65,000.

“The justification used by the trust is that it is safer and better for patients to travel where they can get specialist help.

Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten, right, meets the new chairman of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Dean Fathers.

“Lincoln hospital staff are under huge pressure to cope with an increasing workload. This will only worsen as acute services at Grantham and Boston are centralised. The decision to move some specialist care units out of Lincoln reflects the restriction in space at the hospital, which is another issue.

“Independent research indicates for every additional kilometre travelled, critically ill patients have a 1 per cent higher likelihood of mortality. This risk is worsened for people suffering from anaphylactic shock and severe breathing problems, including severe asthmatic attacks. For these patients, urgent non-specialised medical attention is needed.

“EMAS and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue are seeing increased emergency calls but face budget cuts. Centralisation of acute services also puts huge pressure on emergency ambulance crews and First Responders forced to travel further.”

But Grantham councillor Ray Wootten said he did not think now was the time for people to be asked their views. Coun Wootten said: “We should wait for the LHAC proposals to come out before we start jumping up and down. We do not know what proposals they are putting forward yet.”

LHAC is due to put forward its proposals in October when they will go out to public consultation for three months.

Coun Wootten met the new chairman of ULHT, Dean Fathers, this week.

He said he had reassurances from Mr Fathers that the future of Grantham Hospital was safe and that was the message he wanted to get across.

Coun Wootten added: “Reports that the trust are going to change the name of Grantham A&E into an urgent care centre seem at first a downgrade but in reality, it has been like this for the past few years.

“It is forecast that Grantham will grow significantly by 2020 so our town needs a service that is fit for the future. I put several questions to the new chairman, who has reassured me that nothing is going to be taken away from our hospital and that it is not going to close.”

n Find the petition at {http://bit.ly/1qw9zI7|bit.ly/1qw9zI7

The medical director of the trust which runs Grantham Hospital says there has been a lot of misleading information spread about the future of Grantham Hospital and A&E, which has caused anger and angst among people.

Speaking to the Journal this week, Dr Suneil Kapadia said Grantham Hospital does not have an A&E as such because it does not have the expertise. He said: “We have two emergency department consultants at Grantham who do a good job, but you cannot run an emergency department 24/7 with two consultants. It is not operating as a fully-fledged emergency department. It’s able to deal with the vast majority of cases that come through the front door because they are, relatively speaking, non-urgent.”

Dr Kapadia – who admitted last week that the unit is already an urgent care centre in all but name – said he would envisage that if it went went ahead officially, it would open 24 hours a day.

In the year from April 1, 2015, 29,437 people went to A&E at Grantham and only 4,107 of those were serious enough to warrant A&E care.

ULHT says this is not enough to warrant running a fully fledged A&E and it is safer for patients to be taken to more specialised units in Lincoln, Boston and elsewhere to get expert treatment.

The trust says that over the same period, 70,358 people visited A&E at Lincoln and of those 19,614 were admitted to hospital. At Boston Pilgrim Hospital, 54,333 people went to A&E and 17,004 were admitted.

Dr Kapadia added: “Grantham Hospital has a bright future. It’s an integral part of ULHT. We would like to increase elective surgery there which will help make the whole hospital more viable for the future.”