Vigil held outside Grantham Hospital on day that urgent treatment centre replaces A&E
A vigil was held outside Grantham Hospital last night (Tuesday), the day that an urgent treatment centre (UTC) replaced A&E.
Around 30 people gathered outside the hospital on Manthorpe Road for the torchlit vigil to mark the changeover and their support for full hospital services in the town.
The vigil was organised by Charmaine Morgan, chairman of campaign group SOSGrantham Hospital, which has fought for a full A&E service at Grantham.
Deputy Mayor of Grantham Councillor Mrs Morgan thanked people for attending the vigil. She added: “It shows that we still care about our A&E after all these years and there are some people here whose faces I recognise who have been campaigning for at least ten years and for some even 16 years and more.
“We wouldn’t have an A&E to lose today if it weren’t for the work that we’ve all done. In 2005 they wanted to close our A&E completely. In 2013 they tried to close our A&E and in 2016 they planned to close it, but did a night closure only. They were not going to reopen our A&E after they close the entire hospital, shame on them, during Covid.
“Our judicial review meant that they had to restore all the services which is why we still had an A&E until yesterday. The strategy of ULHT (United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust) throughout the whole thing has been to try and make Lincoln Hospital a university hospital but they don’t have the numbers of patients to do that so it’s rather helped them to get our patients from here moved over to their hospital.”
In 2018 campaigners delivered a petition to Downing Street with more than 60,000 signatures calling for the full restoration of A&E at Grantham.
Mayor of Grantham Councillor Mark Whittington also attended Tuesday’s vigil. Coun Whittington said: “I wasn’t sure how many people were going to be here but if you consider this has been going on now for eight years, the history goes back 16 years, you would have thought by now that the people of Grantham would have accepted it, but I think tonight just proves that people in the town do care about their hospital.”
Councillor Whittington said he believed the vigils should continue so that pressure could be kept on the hospitals trust to keep services at Grantham.
Campaigners and residents held weekly vigils for over six years outside the hospital until last year.
Coun Whittington added: “I think maybe we could carry this on every month just to tell the management of ULHT that the people of Grantham haven’t gone away. I think it’s important we keep the pressure on and that we tell the people of Grantham you can insist on coming to Grantham Hospital. If you ring 111 and say you want to come to Grantham Hospital. You can come here, use it at night.
“If you can make your own way here or get family and friends to bring you, please come here and we will try and ensure the ambulances come here. People have to use it because otherwise the fear is that it will be used as a reason to gradually downgrade and downgrade the hospital.”
When the date for introducing the UTC was announced last month, ULHT chief operating officer Michelle Harris said: “Due to the limitations of the hospital’s size, staffing and available support services, the A&E at Grantham has only been able to treat a limited number of patients for a number of years, with those suffering from serious trauma, heart attacks, strokes and paediatric emergencies being directed to other hospitals for specialist care.
“The service offered at the new UTC will be very similar, and will be delivered by a skilled range of doctors, GPs, practitioners and nursing staff, many of whom have worked in the A&E at Grantham for many years.
“It will also be an ‘enhanced’ UTC compared to others in the county, offering additional diagnostic capabilities and enhanced staffing, which we believe will safely serve the people of Grantham and the surrounding areas.”