Minister for Health intervenes in Grantham A&E saga

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The Minister for Health has intervened in the ongoing, controversial overnight closure of Grantham A&E.

Steve Barclay MP has written to both United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive, Jan Sobieraj, and Dr Dave Baker, chair of South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, asking for an update on the issue.

It’s the second time the matter has been referred to the Secretary of State for Health.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust closed the department overnight in August 2016, a move which it said was “temporary”.

It added that no decision would be made on the future the service until a review into hospital services in the county was published.

The government’s Independent Reconfiguration Panel backed the decision, but added that consultation should be carried out on the future of the service.

The panel published the advice last August following a referral from the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire to the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

But the committee referred the matter to the government for a second time after it said no action had been taken by the trust.

Now, Mr Barclay has asked that both the trust and CCG write to him by December with their progress.

He told health bosses that the scrutiny panel had expressed concern over the lack of consultation.

In his letter, he said: “I should be therefore most grateful if you would let me have, by the end of December, in a format that I can share with the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire and Nick Boles MP, a report setting out, including a timetable, how you have carried out, or plan to carry out, the engagement and consultation envisaged.”

Carl Macey, chair of the scrutiny panel, said that the committee had to look at the positives from the response.

“It’s not exactly what we expected from the referral,” he said.

“But I think that we have to look at it as being progressive.

“This is the Minister of Health involved actively and he’s going to be keeping a watching eye and I think that this can only be beneficial in moving this on for the benefit of the people of Grantham.”

A spokesperson for ULHT said: “We are working with the STP to respond to this letter directly.

“This will contain details of the extensive public engagement we have done over the past two years.

“It remains the case that the long-term plans for emergency care at Grantham (and across the county) are being developed by the STP and will form part of their public consultation.”

A spokesperson for South West Lincolnshire CCG said: “We note the contents of the letter from the Minister of State and will be responding to him in due course.”