Campaigners’ proposals for a health and social care campus in Grantham have been dubbed a “very worthwhile idea” by the top boss of the NHS.
During a lecture at Lincoln University, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, avoided tackling the A&E overnight closure directly, but praised plans for a new medical school in Lincoln.
Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital campaigner Jody Clark took the opportunity to raise issues about the town’s hospital – including the 1,000-plus days of overnight closure of the A&E, and the distances people were having to travel for emergency treatment.
She and her supporters believe a brand new building to replace the old Grantham Hospital would be a boon to the town, reducing running costs and pollution, improving access and services and incentivising people to come and work in the area.
This was particularly true she said, given the large-scale developments being built in the town.
Mr Stevens said: “It’s a very worthwhile idea that absolutely has merits.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Grantham but I have visited and been to the A&E department and spoken to staff and patients so, I know it’s a much-loved and highly valued resource for not just Grantham.”
Part of the solution, he indicated, would be the planned Lincolnshire Medical School at the University of Lincoln.
“I think part of what was driving some of the changes was really just staffing pressure across Lincolnshire,” he said.
“We’ve had a problem with the availability of the number of doctors particularly in A&E so one of the things we’ve got to get right, the NHS has got to get right and Lincolnshire has got to get right, is persuade people that Lincolnshire is a fantastic place to work,” he said.
“Which is why the new medical school is such an important part of the answer.
“When these new medical students start in September, they are, very early on, given exposure to a lot of the GP practices, community services, the hospitals, etc and have a very positive sense of them.”
He added that recruitment was not an issue when it came to getting young people into the health service, with 14,000 more nursing places nationally last year.
However, the NHS’ issue, he said, was being flexible towards staff, for example in offering them ability to move between some of its 350 jobs and utilising technology to free up time.