An elderly woman with breathing difficulties and a man who suffered a night-time heart attack died on their way to hospital because of the closure of Grantham hospital’s A&E department, campaigners have claimed.
The Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital campaign group has compiled a list of incidents which it has said have occurred since the controversial decision to close A&E from 6.30pm until 9am.
Perhaps most distressing is the claim that a 70-year-old woman died after suffering from breathing difficulties.
She was being taken to Lincoln County Hospital as Grantham was closed but she died during the journey.
In a separate incident, a man who lived just five minutes from the hospital was rushed to Lincoln County Hospital after suffering a heart attack at night.
He also died on the way to hospital.
Some of the other alleged incidents highlighted by the group include:
- An 83-year-old woman was left waiting three hours for an ambulance after a serious head injury.
- A child with a fractured arm had to wait overnight for A&E to reopen because his mum could not afford the taxi fare.
- A man undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from convulsions and a temperature was told he had to wait 11 hours for an ambulance.
Hospital trust responds to accusations
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has said that it does not have enough doctors to fill shifts in three departments 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director at ULHT, said: “Currently, and prior to the temporary night time closure, Grantham people with the most life threatening conditions such as heart attacks, strokes or head injuries aren’t treated at Grantham hospital. They are taken by ambulance to Lincoln, Pilgrim or Nottingham.
“If a person who lives on Manthorpe Road in Grantham, for example, has a heart attack or cardiac arrest when Grantham A&E is open and calls 999 they will be taken by ambulance straight to the Lincolnshire Heart Centre in Lincoln. And because of this they are more likely to survive than if they were taken to Grantham.
“Whilst it may sound counter intuitive to have an ambulance driving past the local hospital to a specialist centre, it is the proven safest option for people with acute heart attacks of this nature.
It’s not about the distance you travel, but about the ability to provide the most appropriate procedures for a specific condition when a person arrives.
“In Lincoln and Pilgrim A&E, staff maintain the expert skill levels required to treat these patients and both hospitals have full support services and intensive care on site. The injured and ill are treated by the right clinicians, in the right hospitals, as quickly as possible.
“We have two obstetric units, Pilgrim Hospital, Boston and Lincoln County Hospital in Lincolnshire. Expectant mothers in the Grantham already travel to other hospitals to have their baby.
“EMAS via 999 prioritises patients based on greatest need to ensure those with serious or life threatening conditions are seen first.
“In making the very difficult decision, we discussed the potential impact on EMAS with their senior team.
“On average, based upon ULHT information, two more people are being taken to Lincoln County Hospital from a Grantham postcode via 999 ambulance each evening, than before the changes came into effect.”
A spokesperson for EMAS added: “Together with ULHT and our commissioners we are monitoring the impact the temporary change at Grantham A&E has had on our service.
The public can be assured that every 999 call is assessed using the information shared by the caller, therefore patients in a life-threatening condition are treated as a priority.
“People that call with a medical problem causing them discomfort but it is not serious, will be referred to another health service.
“Equally, many patients are safe to travel in a car with a relative or friend, keeping emergency ambulances, equipment and skilled crews available for people in a life-threatening condition.”