A final vigil has been held for Grantham A&E following the announcement it will be downgraded to a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre.
A number of local residents have been gathering outside the hospital on a weekly basis for the past six years in an attempt to raise awareness of the changes on the cards and show hospital bosses the strength of feeling against the plans.
But last week Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group confirmed the service would become an urgent treatment centre in a shake-up of Lincolnshire’s hospital services.
The site will become a 24-hour urgent treatment service rather than the daytime A&E service offered currently.
Campaigners have always said the loss of any services from the A&E was a “downgrade”.
Yvonne Bellamy, who has been helping with the weekly vigil, expressed her frustration following the final vigil on Wednesday evening.
She posted the photo with the caption: “Sadly we are making this our last vigil.”
And she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I felt annoyed that we didn’t get more support, six or at the most 10 people from the whole of Grantham and district, we have done this now for nearly six years and about 20 was the most we ever got and most of them older people.
“We knew we were fighting a losing battle but at least we tried, our local MPs and most councillors should be ashamed.”
Her photo received a number of supportive comments, including from fellow campaigners.
Liz Wilson wrote: “The ‘vigillers’ have done a tremendous job over the years, keeping the prospect of the closure of Grantham A&E visible to Grantham residents”.
Sue Rowsell said: “You may not have got the result we all hoped for but can be proud of the commitment and effort you have all made.”
Melissa Darcey added: “I am proud to have stood by your side whilst also working hard in the background trying to stop this awful downgrade to our services.”
Hospital bosses have admitted ‘a small number’ of patients each day will now have to travel to Lincoln instead.
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.
More than 3,400 people were consulted about the wide-ranging changes.
Although Lincolnshire residents were supportive overall, both Grantham and Boston residents were resistant to changes for their local services.
Health bosses said keeping the accident and emergency service in Grantham wasn’t sustainable.