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01.09.16

Legal challenge issued against ‘unlawful’ Grantham hospital A&E closure

A patient group has launched a legal challenge against United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision to cut opening hours at a local hospital A&E.

The trust announced last month that it has been forced to close Grantham and District Hospital A&E between 6.30pm and 9am for the next three months in order to transfer doctors to A&E departments in other hospitals.

A local group, SOS Grantham Hospital, is now launching a legal challenge against the decision.

Rosa Curling, human rights solicitor at Leigh Day, which is representing SOS Grantham Hospital, said: “It is our opinion that the decision to close Grantham Hospital overnight for the next three months is unlawful. It was taken without proper patient involvement. Any decision to close an A&E department at a popular local hospital is a serious decision that clearly requires a proper consultation process.

“The people of Grantham are being denied vital services and we are now representing the SOS Grantham Hospital group in their fight to that the people of Grantham have a strong voice in the NHS decision making process.  Their voice must be heard before any changes are made to vital local NHS services.”

The group argues that the decision is not lawful because it was not taken with patient involvement, contrary to the advice in the Department of Health guidance ‘Real Involvement - Working with people to improve health services’.

Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director at the trust, said: “Due to a severe shortage of doctors, we had to make this difficult decision quickly, so it hasn’t been a perfect process. We didn’t act unilaterally and worked with NHS partners and other stakeholders where possible.

“As the closure is temporary and made quickly on the grounds of patient safety, unfortunately we were not able to consult the public. We are committed to involving the public and patients in our long-term plans and decisions, and are fully committed to the Lincolnshire Health and Care consultation.

“Over the next few months, we will be going out talking to United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust members and community groups about Grantham A&E to understand how this is affecting people.”

The trust said it has insufficient levels of A&E doctors at three of the hospitals it runs - Grantham and District, Lincoln County and Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.

It is transferring doctors from the Grantham A&E to cover night shifts at the other hospitals.

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