Grantham A&E night closure set to continue

Grantham and District Hospital sign
Image caption Grantham A&E started closing at night in August

A hospital's A&E unit is to remain closed at night until enough doctors can be found to staff it, health bosses have said.

The Grantham and District Hospital unit began closing early in August, in a trial expected to last three months.

But a shortage of A&E doctors has forced United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) to keep it closed.

The trust says it is committed to reopening the unit and is trying to recruit staff.

Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director at ULHT, said the trust needed to meet minimum staffing requirements without an overreliance on agency staff.

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"I recognise people want Grantham A&E to reopen 24/7... [but] it's important we aren't in a situation where we reopen A&E one day and then need to close it again the next week due to doctors leaving," he said.

"The reality is agency staff have the pick of places to work and can often leave a placement at short notice."

The trust said it was continuing to recruit staff both in the UK and overseas.

Image caption In October, protestors marched through Grantham to express their concerns about the temporary closure

ULHT employs about 17 doctors across its three sites in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, and needs a minimum of 21 to keep all of them open for 24 hours.

The trust previously took the decision to close the Grantham unit at night to enable it to maintain safe staffing levels at its two other A&E departments, both of which take a higher number of patients.

It acknowledged the decision was unpopular and added it supported the right of people to protest against it.

Campaigners have also branded plans to extend the A&E's opening times by an hour as "ridiculous".

The trust plans to open the unit from 08:00 to 18:30 at the end of March, instead of opening at 09:00.

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