Grantham and District Hospital’s emergency department will shut its doors overnight for at least another three months because of staff shortages, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has announced.
The Trust says it has made the decision because of a reduction in the availability of doctors in Lincoln and Boston together with an increase in the demand for emergency care services.
“We do not have enough doctors to safely staff all three of our A&Es 24 hours a day, seven days week. This plan will help maintain safe services across Lincolnshire.
“In order to concentrate our limited medical resource and support our busiest departments at Lincoln and Pilgrim, unfortunately we have had to reduce the opening hours at Grantham A&E. This means we can redeploy the medical staff shift by shift, to where they are most needed and deliver safe services,” the Trust explains on its website.
The hospital first announced in August last year that a "severe shortage" of available doctors in A&E was putting patient safety at risk and that it would need to close overnight as a result.
At the time, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned that some local systems were becoming increasingly fragile due to resourcing challenges.
"The wider picture is there is a real crisis in emergency medicine as our workforce numbers are not growing fast enough to keep pace with rising numbers of patients attending A&E Departments," said its president, Dr Clifford Mann.
The move to extend overnight A&E closures also follows a decision by England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals in April this year to place the Trust back in special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
The Trust was initially one of 11 placed into special measures by Sir Bruce Keogh in July 2013 as part of his review of high mortality rates, then exited the programme in February 2015 following improvements at the time. However, the CQC subsequently found deterioration across a number of services, leading to its re-instatement in the special measures regime.
“In particular, there must be significant improvements in the quality and safety of patient care, leadership and managerial oversight of quality and performance and effective implementation of the existing governance arrangements consistently across all of the services,” inspectors said.