Hundreds of people gathered outside Grantham Hospital on Saturday to protest against the night-time closure of the A&E department, and to demand full emergency care be restored.
The rally was organised by campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital following news that the department will be closed overnight between 6.30pm and 9am every day for three months from today (Wednesday) while they try to recruit more doctors.
The move was taken by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) due to a staffing crisis at its other two hospitals, Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim. It says patient safety is being put at risk because of a shortage of doctors. Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director at ULHT, said: “We know this will be an unpopular decision but reducing the opening hours of Grantham A&E is the safest option for Lincolnshire.”
SOS Grantham Hospital is protesting against the overnight closure and demanding that full A&E services be restored and retained long-term.
This follows fears that Grantham’s A&E could be downgraded to an urgent care centre as part of a package of changes proposed for Lincolnshire.
At Saturday’s rally, copies of a petition were distributed and people were invited to speak on the night-time closure of the A&E department. An online petition set up by SOS Grantham Hospital has already been signed by more than 3,300 people.
Campaign group chairman Coun Charmaine Morgan told The Standard’s sister paper the Grantham Journal she feels ULHT is ‘riding roughshod over Grantham Hospital’s community’.
She added: “Even if they can get an ambulance to Lincoln they face being stranded there in the early hours of the morning.”
ULHT says after 6.30pm, patients will be directed to other hospitals, the out of hours service and emergency assessment unit at Grantham via NHS 111, or should call 999 in emergencies.