Protestors were chanting “no ifs, no buts, no A&E cuts” as they made their feelings known against plans for Grantham and District Hospital’s A&E department to become a 24/7 urgent treatment centre.
NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a 12-week public consultation on a series of plans for orthopaedic surgery, urgent and emergency care in Grantham, acute medical beds and stroke services in the county. The proposals are also hoping to tackle a shortage of specialist doctors, nurses and therapists.
An engagement event was held at the Jubilee Church Life Centre in Grantham on the evening of Thursday, October 14 for people to share their views on the proposed changes that health bosses believe will improve services. The public consultation started on September 30 and will run for 12 weeks until December 23.
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. However, local campaigners do not agree.
Campaigners made their voices heard with megaphones, chanting and horns. One of the protestors, Melissa Darcey, told BBC Look North: “There is a vast difference between an urgent treatment centre and an A&E and we’ve effectively gone from a major trauma centre to a glorified GP surgery, so I just dispute their argument that this is improvement.
“The more they cut our services to the bone the more people will lose their lives.”
This is not the first time there have been protests over changes to the hospital in Grantham.
Thousands turned out to campaign against planned cuts in October 2005 and years of protests followed. The A&E department temporarily closed overnight in 2016, but that then became permanent, prompting campaigners to take a protest and a petition to Downing Street.
Last year A&E was temporarily closed to keep the hospital COVID safe, but campaigners said they had been vindicated after a High Court judge ruled that United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust did not consult properly when it downgraded Grantham Hospital into a coronavirus-free site.
Meanwhile, NHS Lincolnshire CCG said there will be another engagement event in Lincoln between 6.30pm-8pm on Saturday, October 16 to share your views on the proposed changes at the county’s hospitals. Book your place and see the upcoming list of consultation events here.