• Patients at Peterborough hospital up nearly 3 per cent due to Grantham downgrade
  • Grantham A&E has been closed overnight for three years
  • Peterborough hospital already under pressure, with deteriorating four-hour performance

The full extent of the increased pressure on a struggling city hospital after the downgrading of a neighbour’s emergency department has finally been revealed.

For the past three years, Peterborough City Hospital has had to cope with accident and emergency attendances from the “patch” covered by Grantham hospital. Grantham’s A&E has been closed overnight for three years as part of a controversial reconfiguration sparked by problems staffing the unit to safe levels.

Grantham hospital is run by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, but the acute provider agreed in March to hand over control of the hospital to Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust, which will run it as an urgent care centre. 

North West Anglia Foundation Trust’s 2018-19 annual report, published this month, revealed that 1,381 additional patients from the Grantham area arrived at its Peterborough City Hospital, 906 were walk ins and 475 arrived by ambulance. This represents a 13.4 per cent increase on the year before, when there were 1,217 additional attendances from Grantham, comprising 832 walk ins and 385 by ambulance.

Attendances by Grantham patients accounted for 2.9 per cent of Peterborough’s A&E workload in 2018-19, up from 2.6 per cent.

Peterborough’s four-hour performance was 65 per cent in February against the 95 per cent target and 73 per cent in June 2019.

ULHT told HSJ it had also seen a “small” increase at its other two emergency departments at Lincoln and Boston in the three years since August 2016, when the trust first implemented what it said would be a “temporary” overnight closure at Grantham.

Most of the displaced patients have gone to Lincoln. In 2018-19, some 3,540 Grantham patients went to Lincoln while 460 went to the Pilgrim hospital in Boston.

ULHT medical director Neill Hepburn told the trust’s July board meeting the Grantham model was still in the design phase. It would be open 24/7 but as an urgent treatment centre not a consultant-led emergency department, according to minutes published this month.  

Dr Hepburn added: “[It will be] provided by Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust with trust clinicians providing specialist advice where required.

“At present it appeared that the trusts’ consultants would be part of the skill mix. The model remains in the design phase… The proposal would see the opening times extended to 24 hours with overnight access via 111 suggested.

“The staff mix would be altered from consultant led as the integrated service becomes established.

“Whilst the range of conditions that would be handled in the urgent treatment centre would be different from a traditional [A&E], the service would be available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”