With United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust A&E services ranking bottom in the country, why is another A&E set to be downgraded?

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United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust runs the hospitals in Louth, Gainsborough, Lincoln Boston, Skegness, and Grantham; currently Accident and Emergency Units are only operational in Lincoln, Boston and part-time in Grantham despite the Trust being bottom in the country for hitting A&E targets.

Now, in another blow to the health provision in Lincolnshire, it has been announced that Grantham A&E is going to be downgraded to become an ‘Urgent Care Centre’ – this follows a similar move in Louth.

This week the BBC published statistics gained from the different Ambulance trusts across England relating to the average emergency response times. In parts of Lincolnshire, particularly coastal areas, it was reported to take around 15 minutes for ambulances to respond to 999 calls – this is more than double the average response time for England as a whole.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust was formed in February 2000 as a part of the National Health Service and Community Care Act – it was a merger or three former acute hospital trusts based in Grantham, Lincoln, and Boston.

Medical Negligence expert Danielle Barney, Partner at Bridge McFarland Solicitors, said: “When you place an emergency call every second counts, research shows that in cases of cardiac arrest that every minute delay reduces survival chances by 10%.

“In rural areas the delay in getting to hospital is even more pronounced, with a round trip from some parts of Lincolnshire taking as long as half an hour. It’s the ultimate form of postcode lottery.

“My worry is that downgrading another A&E unit will force more patients to attend the already over-stretched facilities in Lincoln and Boston, exacerbating the situation. The ULHT has not hit A&E waiting time targets since December 2015.”

This downgrade comes as the United Lincolnshire NHS Trust currently ranks 131/131 on the NHS A&E Tracker, but it’s not just the A&E services that have fallen behind; the trust has also missed key cancer treatment targets with fewer than 70% of urgent cancer referrals receiving treatment in the first 62 days.