Emergency meeting called over permanent closure of A&E

An emergency meeting has been called to discuss recently approved plans for the permanent closure of Grantham’s A&E. Following a 12-week consultation run last year, a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) will be based at the Grantham and District Hospital instead of the A&E. Lincolnshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which managed the consultation, says that only the very sickest patients will now have to be transferred to other hospitals. But this has attracted criticism from some campaigners, who say that the travel time from Grantham to other nearby A&Es such as Lincoln and Boston is too long for severely ill patients.

Now, an extraordinary meeting of South Kesteven District Council has been arranged to discuss the plans. The meeting was requested by 13 councillors including Charmaine Morgan, who previously told Lincolnshire Live that “people will die” if the A&E is closed. Read more: MP says open prisons like HMP North Sea Camp must not pose an unacceptable risk to residents

She said: “It is reasonable to say that people will die if this goes ahead because there is a wealth of evidence out there that, in critical situations, every mile travelled puts someone at risk. The evidence is that even on a blue light, it takes an ambulance 45 minutes to an hour to travel to Lincoln, but if you’re in one of the outlying areas relying on Grantham’s A&E then that is going to be even worse. “Public transport is half of what it used to be and taxi drivers have become our de facto ambulance crews, so we’re passing on the responsibility of acute care onto untrained members of the public.

My great concern is that we have some of the poorest people in the county, if not in the country, in Grantham because they have been squeezed by low incomes and high private rents.” But addressing concerns around the time it will take to get to other hospitals, the CCG said that the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is confident about its ability to manage the impact of this. Dr David Baker, a GP and clinical lead for Lincolnshire’s CCG, said: “A couple of patients will be taken to another hospital and that involves additional resource for EMAS but at the minute we have the problem where people are brought to Grantham who perhaps shouldn’t be, they then have to be transferred.

“It’s much more difficult to get people stabilised and transferred than it is to get them to the right hospital first time. The proposals at Grantham really wouldn’t have any significant impact on EMAS.” The extraordinary meeting of South Kesteven District Council will be held at its headquarters in Grantham on Tuesday, June 14.

All councillors can attend and the agenda of the meeting states: “To consider the outcome of Lincolnshire CCG’s Acute Service Review, which includes a proposed permanent downgrade of Grantham and District Hospital’s A&E to a UTC.”

Other proposals in Lincolnshire CCG’s consultation included the ‘consolidating’ of stroke services in Lincoln by removing them from Boston, which has also been approved.

The 24/7 UTC service at Grantham is set to be fully up and running in a year.

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