Today United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has announced that due to a severe shortage of doctors Lincolnshire A&Es, we are looking at reducing the opening hours of our emergency departments.
There is a national shortage of appropriately trained doctors to work in A&Es and along with other trusts in the east midlands ULHT is seriously affected by this. We don’t have enough doctors to fill shifts in three departments 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
ULHT emergency departments normally work based on having 15 consultants and 28 registrar or middle grade doctors. At present, we are now down to 14 consultants, of whom 10 are locums, and just 12 middle grades. This means we have only 43% of the middle grades we need. We have reached a crisis point and we may put patients at risk if we don’t act.
We are now in a situation where we are unable to recruit locums, so our consultant doctors have filled the gaps by doing extra shifts. Our staff are under enormous pressure and the situation is now unsustainable.
Our A&E staff are concerned that if we don’t act, patients could be put at risk if we continue as we are. To ensure that we run safe services, we have looked at a number of options. These include reducing the opening hours of our A&Es. We have ruled out reducing the opening hours at Lincoln County Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. This is because they both take patients more seriously ill patients and have a higher number of patients attending A&E and being admitted than Grantham and District Hospital does. Our safest option for the people of Lincolnshire is to look at reducing the opening hours at Grantham A&E.
Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director at ULHT, said: “We haven’t made a final decision yet, and we hope to avoid this, but the reality is we will need to temporarily reduce the opening hours of A&E at Grantham.
“The quality and safety of patient care is the Trust’s number one priority and we haven’t rested on our laurels. We have tried to recruit in the UK and internationally, and we have offered premium rates to attract agency doctors whilst investing £4 million in urgent care services. Despite this, we have reached crisis point.”
We are working with other A&E providers, East Midlands Ambulance Service and the CCGs to find a solution to this crisis to avoid changing A&E services.
Allan Kitt, Chief Officer, south West Lincolnshire CCG said: “Any temporary emergency closure is very concerning, whilst we are disappointed that we may be forced to take this action, we do believe that closing A&E at Grantham overnight is the best way to ensure that services for our patients remain as safe as possible.
“We will be working closely with ULHT, local GPs and our community services to develop a range of services to ensure that those people who have less serious illnesses but might currently use A&E can get a service locally during the temporary closure. We will be sharing these plans with the public in the next week.”
To help our hospitals, we would always urge everyone to think twice before they go to A&E – if it’s not serious or life threatening you shouldn’t be there. Many illnesses can be better treated by visiting your local pharmacy, calling 111, visiting your local GP, GP out of hours services, or attending a walk in centre or a minor injuries unit. If you are concerned and need medical advice please contact NHS 111.
For further information contact: The communications team on 01522 573986.
Notes to editors
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust runs three A&Es in Lincolnshire based at Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and at Grantham and District Hospital.
A&E departments are staffed by consultants, registrars, or middle grades, doctors in training, nurse practitioners and nurses.
Middle grades are experienced A&E doctors that can work unsupervised for many clinical conditions.
See Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s campaign calling for action to address the significant challenges facing A&Es http://rcem.ac.uk/Shop-Floor/Policy/Campaigns/STEP%20Campaign/.