United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust board has announced that Grantham A&E will remain closed at nights for another three months due to continued recruitment problems.
The A&E’s doors will continue to only open between 8am and 6.30pm, seven days a week.
This is despite almost doubling the number of permanent middle grade doctors at Lincoln A&E and appointing a new consultant. Staffing levels are said by the Trust to be ‘still not where they need to be’ to safely open Grantham A&E.
In August 2016, ULHT made the decision to temporarily close Grantham A&E at nights due to fill a severe shortage of middle grade doctors at Lincoln and Boston A&Es.
ULHT reviewed the opening hours at its board meeting this week and insists the impact has been small.
Before the next review in November ULHT will work with GP commissioning groups to explore an interim service for a 24 hour emergency/out of hours service.
Dr Neill Hepburn, Medical Director at ULHT says: “Although the recruitment drive has led to a gradually improving picture in medical staffing, we are currently at 18.6 and have not reached the minimum threshold to open 24/7. The provision of emergency services, particularly at Lincoln County Hospital, continues to remain fragile and requires the support of A&E medical staff, from Grantham District Hospital, on grounds of patient safety.”
He said changes to the taxation rules has had an added unforeseen impact on A&E staffing.
He went on: “We understand the frustrations and concerns of Grantham people and that they want A&E to be open 24/7 but we will only do this once we can safely staff all our A&Es at least eight weeks into the future. We are fully committed to opening A&E but only when it is safe to do so.”
To attract more doctors the trust has offered a specialist training post with a financial incentive which gives doctors the opportunity to work on secondments to become a emergency medicine consultant.