ULHT Board to consider reopening Grantham A&E overnight

On Tuesday 7 November, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) Board will consider whether to reopen Grantham A&E 24 hours a day over the winter. NHS Improvement has asked that the final decision on whether to reopen be deferred by one month, in order to allow for an independent review of staffing to be carried out. This review will look at the staffing model for all three A&Es, to ensure that before Grantham is reopened overnight, clinical staffing across Lincolnshire’s A&Es is safe and sustainable over winter.

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ULHT has always remained committed to fully reopening Grantham A&E when it is safe to do so, and over the past year we have been working hard to recruit and retain doctors.

We have been successful in securing the employment of more permanent, locum and agency middle grade doctors, which increases our numbers to 22 –  slightly above the minimum of 21 middle grade doctors that we need to safely staff the three A&Es.  Although this takes us over the minimum threshold, staffing rotas in the long-term still remains very challenging.

Neill Hepburn, Medical Director said: “The staffing situation is volatile and constantly changing as we are still very reliant on short-term agency doctors, many of whom only work occasional shifts. There is also a shortage of A&E nurses, which is placing pressures on an already creaking service.

“Before Grantham A&E can reopen, we need to be confident that we can staff rotas for at least 12 weeks. This is to avoid the scenario of reopening A&E one day, to then close the next day due to a lack of staff.

“However, as we have 22 middle grade doctors, the Trust’s executive team and clinical management board are both recommending that the Trust Board agrees to reopen Grantham’s A&E to help Lincolnshire’s NHS services cope this winter. The Board will formally consider whether it is safe to fully reopen on Tuesday, alongside the request from NHS Improvement for the staffing review to be completed before the Board makes a final decision.

NHS Improvement has advised that it expects the review of A&E staffing to be completed within a month. Until the trust board has made its final decision, opening hours will remain 8am to 6.30pm until further notice.