Decision on future of Grantham A&E delayed

We'll have to wait until next month to hear if Grantham's A&E will reopen overnight during winter.

A meeting on the issue this morning was packed out with campaigners clearly expecting a more definite answer on what lies ahead for their emergency department.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) do have enough doctors to reopen, but have now said they have to listen to advice from regulator NHS Improvement, who want a safety review of the situation in emergency departments across the county.

That's expected to take until December. Bosses at ULHT can then make a definite yes or no decision.

Jan Sobieraj, Chief Executive said, “On behalf of ULHT, I would like to thank the people of Grantham for their support for reopening over the past year. We appreciate what a difficult time it has been for some people.

“I want to reassure people that the closure of the A&E on grounds of patient safety had nothing to do with long-term future for the hospital. We’ve always said we were committed to reopening when we had safe staffing numbers.

“We are now working with our partners to review the options on the long-term future of Grantham. We are committed to supporting local health commissioners in engaging local people in this important decision and we will share any developments”.

While they now have 22 middle grade doctors on staff, meaning they can meet minimum safe staff levels, the staffing situation at the trust remains precarious.

Many of the doctors are temporary locum staff, 2 of whom are employed on a week-by-week basis. That means they can potentially leave at any time, leaving the A&Es in Grantham, Lincoln and Boston without a safe number of staff.

The deferral has angered many campaigners and left some wondering why the board was unable to make a decision without bending to the regulator.

Grantham MP Nick Boles said “I am very disappointed that NHS Improvement has intervened to stop ULHT announcing the reopening of Grantham A&E at nights."

"I believe their actions are legally dubious and morally indefensible. I will be raising the matter in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity” he added.

Lincs FM's Matt Soanes sent this report:

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