The department is currently open between 8am and 6.30pm 7 days a week. The opening hours were restricted for patient safety reasons in August 2016 due to a shortage of middle grade doctors across Lincolnshire’s three A&Es.
Last month, following a successful recruitment campaign, the ULHT Board agreed they wanted to re-open the department overnight, pending an independent review of staffing by NHS Improvement.
NHS Improvement asked the East of England Clinical Senate to undertake a safety review for all the A&E departments in the Trust and to see whether the opening hours of the Grantham department could be extended.
The senate’s report, published this week, recommends that the Grantham A&E department is not re-opened overnight at this time.
It also recommends that any changes to service provision should be linked to the longer-term plans for urgent and emergency care across Lincolnshire being developed jointly with Lincolnshire’s CCGs as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), and that the public should be consulted on these plans.
NHS Improvement has urged the ULHT Board to follow the recommendations of the report.
The Trust Board meeting will be held from 9.15am at The Reservation in Sleaford.
Medical Director at ULHT, Dr Neill Hepburn, said: “Last month, our Board reviewed the position as we had been successful in securing a number of middle grade doctors, and on that basis we recommended that the Grantham A&E department be fully re-opened, pending a staffing review commissioned by NHS Improvement. We recognised at the time that the staffing situation is volatile and constantly changing as we are still very reliant on short-term agency doctors.
“The East of England Clinical Senate carried out a full review of the staffing of our three A&E departments, and whilst they commended our innovative approach to recruitment and the great strides we have made in attracting additional doctors, they have recommended that it would not be safe to re-open the department overnight at present.
“The quality and safety of care is always our top priority, and so our Board will consider the full range of recommendations made by the Clinical Senate to ensure that we do the best for our patients.
“We understand this is a frustrating time for our staff and patients in the Grantham area, and we do remain committed to Grantham hospital, but we will only provide services that are safe.”
Jeff Worrall, Delivery and Improvement Director at NHS Improvement, said: “We commissioned this report to ensure that any decision made by the Trust is grounded in expert views on patient safety, which remains our top priority in terms of Lincolnshire’s A&E services. We are confident that the Trust’s leadership are now in a stronger position to make an informed decision in the best interest of patients.
“We will continue to work closely with the Trust, commissioners and other key partners to progress a new model of urgent care for the county, as recommended in the clinical senate report.”
John Turner, Accountable Officer, South and South West Lincolnshire clinical commissioning Groups, and senior responsible officer for Lincolnshire STP, said: “We are working with all of our partners to implement the senate’s recommendations. We are also continuing to develop options for the future of A&E services, and are fully committed to consulting with the public about this as early as possible in the New Year.”
Click below to view some clinical senate report frequently asked questions.