May 25, 2022 3.30 pm

Grantham A&E downgraded again to urgent treatment centre

Campaigners decry ‘downgrade’ but CCG claims it will improve care

By Local Democracy Reporter

Grantham A&E will permanently become an urgent treatment centre in a shake-up of Lincolnshire’s hospital services.

The site will become 24-hour service rather than the daytime service offered currently.

However, hospital bosses have admitted that a small number of patients will now have to travel to Lincoln instead each day, and campaigners say the move is a “downgrade.”

The UTC is expected to be fully operational in the next 12 to 18 months.

The health services shake-up would also see an orthopaedic ‘centre of excellence’ created in Grantham, and stroke services consolidated in Lincoln County Hospital rather than Boston.

The Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group says the proposals will offer better care and reduced waiting times for patients.

Councillor Linda Wootten at a protest over the A&E’s fate last year | Photo: Mel Powles

The proposals in full which have been agreed:

  1. Orthopaedics – Consolidate planned orthopaedic surgery at Grantham and District Hospital to establish a ‘centre of excellence’ in Lincolnshire, and establish a dedicated day-case centre at County Hospital Louth for planned orthopaedic surgery
  2. Urgent treatment and emergency care – Grantham and District Hospital A&E department to become a 24/7 urgent treatment centre (UTC).
  3. Acute medicine – Develop integrated community/acute medical beds at Grantham and District Hospital, in place of the current acute medical beds
  4. Stroke services – Consolidate hyper-acute and acute stroke services on the Lincoln County Hospital site, supported by an enhanced community stroke rehabilitation service.

More than 3,400 people were consulted about the wide-ranging changes.

Although Lincolnshire residents were supportive of them overall, both Grantham and Boston residents were resistant to the changes planned for their local services.

Health bosses said keeping the accident and emergency service in Grantham wasn’t sustainable.

Jody Clark, the founder of the Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital campaign group said: “It’s been six years since the first ‘temporary’ overnight closure, and when it finally reopens as 24 hours next year, it won’t be the service we wanted.

“They say it isn’t a downgrade but it feels like it is, especially after losing our paediatrics and maternity services over the years.

Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital founder Jody Clark. | Photo: Lincolnshire Reporter

“This will lead to more people going to Lincoln and Boston’s overstretched A&E services.

“It feels like lip services is being paid to the transport issues. Getting to Lincoln hospital regularly isn’t viable for a lot of people who don’t have transport, particularly in rural villages.

“They talk about offering a streamlined service, but I don’t think that will be people’s lived experience. Our goal now will be to stop any other services from leaving the hospital.”

The CCG board meeting heard that higher-quality services concentrated in one area lead to better outcomes, despite the added travel time.

Grantham’s UTC will be able to see the majority of patients who currently go to the A&E.

However, the hospital trust expects around two per day will be sent to Lincoln for treatment instead.

East Midlands Ambulance Service were supportive of the changes, and said they will be able to cope with the increase in longer journeys.

It is hoped that the proposals will leave the trust’s finances £1.9million a year better off, while also improving care and reducing staff vacancies.

Peter Burnett, the CCG planning director, said: “Fast access to high quality diagnosis and treatment at the acute site can offset longer travel times. There’s also ambulance travel time which can be still be used to support treatment of patients.”

Dr David Baker said: “When we started out this proposal several years ago, it was out of concern for the fragility of the services, but we have developed proposals that will undoubtedly improve the quality of service for patients.”