United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust board has announced that the opening hours of Grantham A&E will remain 8am to 6.30pm, seven days a week.
In August 2016, ULHT made the difficult decision to temporarily change the opening hours at Grantham A&E due to a severe shortage of middle grade doctors at Lincoln and Boston A&Es. Since 17 August 2016, Grantham A&E has been open from 9am to 6.30pm, seven days a week and 8am to 6.30pm since March 2017. This will be reviewed again in three months’ time.
Reducing the opening hours of Grantham A&E has allowed us to provide better patient care in Lincoln – where the most serious cases from across the county go to. There is a national shortage of A&E doctors, and ULHT is very much affected by this. We are overly reliant on short and long term agency doctors to fill staff rotas. Though not ideal, this was the safest option for the provision of emergency care for the people of Lincolnshire including those who live in the Grantham and district area.
Dr Neill Hepburn, interim medical director at ULHT says: “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.
Although our doctor numbers are higher than in August, we still have 18.6 middle grades for all our A&Es at Lincoln, Pilgrim and Grantham which is below the required number of 21 to have all three departments open 24/7. Before we can reopen Grantham A&E, we have agreed with our commissioners and our regulators, the minimum number required of 21 for all three departments open 24/7 consistently and safely. Even if we had 21 doctors, this is still below our ideal number of 28.”
ULHT reviewed the opening hours of Grantham A&E at its board meeting in May and considered the views of the most senior consultants, A&E medical and nursing staff, stakeholders and the public. Our own data shows that the healthcare system is still coping with the overnight closure of Grantham A&E and that on the whole the impact has been small in the number of attendances and admissions at other A&Es.
Our recruitment drive will continue. We are still advertising in the UK and abroad and are working with UK and international recruitment agencies to ensure we recruit enough doctors.
Hospital emergency departments are staffed by a combination of consultants, middle grade doctors (or registrars), doctors in training, A&E nurses and emergency care practitioners.
ULHT runs three A&Es – at Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and Grantham and District Hospital.
Grantham and District Hospital
A&E at GDH provides unrestricted access to A&E services 24/7 (8am to 6.30pm since 27.3.17). However, because of the limited range of services provided at the hospital, it is restricted in its ability to support a full range of emergencies that normally would be expected to be treated in an A&E. It cannot receive patients by air ambulance.
The health community (East Midlands Ambulance Service and local general practitioners) are aware that patients with certain medical conditions should not be taken or sent GDH.
Patients who require treatment and management beyond that available at GDH are transferred to Lincoln, Pilgrim or Nottingham University Hospitals.
Two consultants provide on-site presence in A&E from 09:00 to 17:00 during the week only. At weekends and at other times they provide on call cover off site but are available to attend the hospital for emergencies. The department is funded for six middle grades specialising in emergency care.