MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, Stephen Phillips has been pressing the Permanent Secretary for Health on the current three-month trial closure of Grantham Hospital A&E at nights, insisting that his department “must be on top of issue”.
During last Wednesday’s session of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Phillips questioned the Permanent Secretary, Chris Wormald, on the department’s response to the overnight closure of Grantham A&E to bolster short staffing at the county’s two other emergency sites at Lincoln and Boston.
Mr Wormald replied that he was aware of the issue and the problems with staffing, but that it was the responsibility of NHS Improvement. But Mr Phillips responded strongly: “I want your assurance that the Department is on top of this and giving as much assistance as possible to the Trust.
“The Secretary of State and the Department are still responsible for the health service, ultimately, so it is to you that I look to be on top of this issue.”
Mr Wormald promised to consult with NHS Improvement and write to both Mr Phillips and Nick Boles, the MP for Grantham and Stamford, with an update on what the department is doing to help United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.
Commenting afterwards, Mr Phillips said: “The service offered at Grantham is an important one, even though the majority of those in need of emergency care in my constituency are treated at Lincoln.
“There is no excuse, in my view, for ULHT finding itself in this position given the levels of increased funding which have been made available to the NHS and, going forward, I want to ensure that the current situation cannot happen again.
“I have already written to the Secretary of State and the Chief Executive of NHS England for their assurances that the problems will be resolved as soon as possible, but I wanted to make sure that the Permanent Secretary is also aware and doing what he can to assist.
“I look forward to hearing from him that the Department is doing whatever it can to help ULHT to resolve this and get the A&E service at Grantham working fully again.”