Once again doubts have been raised over the future of emergency and acute in-patient services at Grantham Hospital as a fresh consultation has been opened by Lincolnshire CCG on plans which would permanently downgrade Grantham and centre services elsewhere.
However the validity of the consultation, which is not due for completion until late December, is called into question by the subsequent announcement that United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust has plans for a multi-million investment to double the size of Boston A&E.
While this is good news for Boston area residents SOS Grantham Hospital campaign notes that it is “a slap in the face for 120,000 people in the Grantham and District Hospital area,” who are to see their A&E downgraded to an Urgent Treatment Centre and other acute services lost.
For the past five years Grantham residents have seen emergency ambulances drive past their hospital at night since the night closure of the Grantham A&E unit, and the proposed Urgent Treatment Centre – even if it is open 24/7 as promised – will not replace an A&E unit.
SOSGH, which has launched a new online petition to stop the downgrade of Grantham Hospital, asks “How can ULHT staff the doubling in size of Boston A&E, and associated admissions, when Lincolnshire CCG and United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust are telling us there aren’t enough doctors and consultants in the county to keep all our A&E and other acute services going?”
They fear local children and babies, elderly, and acute stroke patients will be particularly affected. However NHS decision makers are “already committed to taking key staff and services from Grantham and diverting them elsewhere in the county.” They took no notice of a 2019 SOSGH petition of 33,000 signatures opposing any A&E downgrade.
According to the CCG’s own figures current CCG and ULHT plans will put over 700 lives in the Grantham area a year at risk, although campaigners argue this is an underestimate, given how many acutely ill patients had to travel for treatment when Grantham A&E was closed last year at the peak of the Covid 19 pandemic.
But the scale of the problem is likely to increase. Council growth plans would mean over 7000 more households would be moving into Grantham and the surrounding area which is a virtual black hole as far as maternity, trauma and acute emergency services are concerned, after a decade of NHS strategic decisions.
Lincoln A&E, already overloaded, would be required to cope with even more patients causing further pressure on staff and delays for all patients and ambulance crews affected. Improving A&E services at Lincoln or Boston will do little to make up for Acute services lost in Grantham. Too many critically ill people here will arrive in a worse condition or not survive the cross-county journey.
“The CCG have a duty to care for us all, based on medical need. Our critical needs will be ignored. This includes Grantham area emergency stroke care needs which do not even get mentioned in the latest poorly worded Acute Service Review report,” says SOSGH.
“We are not alone. Social media messages from other residents across the county indicate that others are also unhappy with the CCG plans. … We are delighted to be working with fellow campaigners in Is anyone Listening Lincolnshire? and Fighting for Life Lincolnshire.”
The new petition and more details of the campaign are available online and available for download.
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