Talks are under way with health staff today (Wednesday) over plans for a shake-up in crisis-hit accident and emergency services in the county – with Grantham’s unit marked for overnight closure.
The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) has announced it is looking at reducing opening hours at Grantham Hospital’s A&E department.
We have reached crisis pointDr Suneil Kapadia
An announcement on whether the temporary overnight closure will go ahead and at what hours is due to be revealed tomorrow (Thursday).
The proposed closure would be for three months initially and would mean patients being treated at the county’s two other A&E departments, at Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim.
ULHT medical director Dr Suneil Kapadia told a news conference at Grantham Hospital yesterday the move was necessary because a shortage of A&E doctors threatened patient safety.
During the three-month proposed overnight closure health chiefs say they will redouble their efforts to recruit replacement staff.
Dr Kapadia said: “Our A&E staff are concerned that if we don’t act, patients could be put at risk if we continue as we are.
“To ensure that we run safe services, we have looked at a number of options. These include reducing the opening hours of our A&Es.
“We have ruled out reducing the opening hours at Lincoln County Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. This is because they both take more seriously ill patients and have a higher number of patients attending A&E and being admitted than Grantham and District Hospital does.”
The proposal is dependent on staff changing work patterns and talks on this started yesterday and continue today.
Dr Kapadia continued: “The reality is we will need to temporarily reduce the opening. The quality and safety of patient care is the trust’s number one priority and we haven’t rested on our laurels.
“We have tried to recruit in the UK and internationally, and we have offered premium rates to attract agency doctors whilst investing £4 million in urgent care services.
“Despite this, we have reached crisis point.”
Only patients with more minor injuries and medical conditions are currently admitted to the A&E department at Grantham.
More serious cases, including heart patients and road accident victims, are sent to Lincoln and Boston A&Es, which will continue to be open 24 hours. The most serious trauma patients go to the region’s major trauma centre at Nottingham.
Dr Kapadia said the move should not been seen as a thrreat to the future of services at Grantham Hospital.
He said: “The trust was trying to preserve A&E services across the whole area. The proposal was made purely on patient safety grounds and would have no affect on funding.”
**What do you think of plans to close Grantham A&E department overnight? Have you had emergency care overnight at Grantham Hospital recently? Please get in touch. Call 01476 541431 or send an email.