Care2 in Action: Over 60k Sign Petition to Save a Threatened UK Hospital

Care2 members have rallied around a threatened hospital in Grantham, the UK, to ensure that residents don’t lose access to vital services. This is a story of people power pushing back against regulatory cuts, and it’s as inspiring as it is necessary.

Grantham hospital in Lincolnshire is one of many hospitals around the UK earmarked for potential “downgrading“. This is where regional bodies that oversee the hospitals remove some of the services a hospital offers in order to centralize services.

In Grantham’s case, it would mean losing Grantham Hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit. A&E services would be funneled to Lincoln Hospital or Boston Pilgrim hospitals, leaving Grantham hospital as an “urgent care center”.

When this was first announced in 2016 as part of a wider development plan, the NHS Trust in charge of the region said that this change would make little difference, because services at the hospital were “limited” anyway. Grantham does not have specialized wards like acute surgery.

What residents object to is that, they contend, Lincoln Hospital and other services are already so severely stretched this downgrade actually puts more pressure on all services in the region, rather than streamlining and removing pressure.

What’s more, many people cannot travel the many miles to Lincoln Hospital from their homes in Grantham, either due to cost or being unable to get transport.

“Grantham Hospital serves 120,000 people,” The organization SOS Grantham Hospital notes on its website.  “…the county of Lincolnshire is the fourth largest in the country and the next nearest A&E unit from Grantham is at least 23 miles away.”

The website also notes that the “public transport network in the vicinity is poor with virtually no bus service running in the evenings and overnight. The area has a significant number of single parent households and low income households. Many have no car.”

In essence, they contend, this is the NHS trust cutting costs and simply leaving people who need that local service in real danger of not getting the care they need.

The Trust then moved unilaterally and began closing Grantham Hospital from 18:30-09:00 Monday through Sunday due to supposed safety concerns. It planned to extend that decision right through to February of 2017.

Given that any downgrade of A&E services was meant to be on hold until after a public consultation, residents argued that this was another sign of the hospital being downgraded “by the back door”.

They said enough was enough and decided to take action.

SOS Grantham Hospital Starts a Care2 Petition

To complement an existing physical petition, organizers behind SOS Grantham Hospital also created a Care2 petition to protest the planned closures.

In the petition, the organizers spell out their reasons for opposing this move succinctly: “ULHT propose to send people with acute emergency need to Lincoln Hospital. Lincoln Hospital is struggling to cope with its existing workload. It has among the highest mortality rates in the country. … Grantham needs its own A&E Unit. Stop the cuts at Grantham now.”

As the campaign grew and gathered support, so did the petition, complementing the on-the-streets advocacy that the group participated in and organized, including street marchers and lobbying sympathetic local politicians from both major parties and supporting them as they opposed the proposals for downgrading.

“It is dreadful that as we face the 70th Anniversary of our NHS our A&E network is being undermined​ locally and nationally by Government policy,” SOS Grantham Hospital’s Charmaine Morgan, who started the petition, recently told local press. ”​Despite opposition from local authorities United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is progressing its plans thanks to the power afforded it by Jeremy Hunt’s Health & Care Act (2013).”

“Lincoln Hospital is soon to become a University Hospital,” Morgan said. “This is excellent news but should not come at the cost of services in Grantham and Boston. Boston Pilgrim Hospital also faces a review of its A&E services. Across the county those living on the outskirts are losing out. This is not just a local issue.”

Photo credit: SOS Grantham

Photo credit: SOS Grantham

Delivering Your Signatures to Parliament

On July 6th, organizers behind this campaign traveled to Downing Street, where they submitted the petition signatures, alongside letters from local children at the Belton Lane Primary School and other relevant materials.

In total, SOS Grantham Hospital gathered a huge 62,378 signatures, with 32,978 having signed physical petitions in the local community, and an incredible 26,400 signatures coming from the Care2 petition.

Nearly 20,000 additional online petition signatures were also recorded from concerned Care2 members outside of the UK, adding further weight to the call to save this critical health service.

“NHS services like Grantham hospital’s A&E ward are being lost all across the United Kingdom, as a direct result of the Conservative Government’s underfunding of the NHS,” Beth Granter, who was at the petition delivery, said. “We hope that the Government listens to Charmaine Morgan, and everybody who signed her Care2 petition, and chooses to invest more into the NHS – to save our services that save lives.”

Granter also stressed that, despite the downgrade coming as a result of the Conservative government’s approach to austerity and its overall hostile attitude to a National Health Service, this campaign has received cross-party support. It adds up to little, though, if that support doesn’t also come with renewed funding for NHS services.

“The Government’s latest promise of 3.4 percent growth in investment each year may sound good, but due to such severe underspending over the past eight years (NHS funding has risen by just 1.5% over the last eight years – the lowest period of growth in the NHS’s history) it is nowhere near enough,” adds Granter.

The petition delivery marks a significant victory for SOS Grantham Hospital who have clearly demonstrated the massive amount of concern in the local community about plans to downgrade vital health care services at the expense of local residents.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary who has presided over much of these downgrading schemes, has now been reshuffled to the position of Foreign Secretary following the dramatic departure of a number of “Brexiteers” from Theresa May’s cabinet.

Matt Hancock has now moved from his six-month-old position as Culture Secretary to take over the role as Minister for Health.

Will Hancock’s appointment mean a change of direction on NHS policy? That remains to be seen, but what is clear is that he would be foolish to ignore SOS Grantham Hospital and the thousands of voices from Care2 and local community members alike calling for action to preserve, not downgrade, critical Accident and Emergency services.

Take Action!

And if, like SOS Grantham Hospital, you know of a cause that needs wider support, why not start a Care2 petition? There are plenty of helpful tips available, and the Care2 community is always on hand to help you help others with your amazing petition actions. So start today and make a real difference for the cause you care about!

 

Photo credit: SOS Grantham Hospital.

45 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Shirley S
Shirley S2 months ago

As members of care2 we are pleased to help.

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Naomi D
Naomi D3 months ago

WELL DONE!!!

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.3 months ago

Please remember that upon trying to save as much of the World as possible,to look at your immediate community sometimes,however,I do believe that by signing these petitions,we are helping,click by steady click to earn money for these troublesome and troubled animals,peoples,places,let Care 2 be heard,in the UK,abroad,everywhere,all of the thousands of us that belong here,we are so pleased when we have saved something,by a precious click..

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.3 months ago

Well done to all .

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.3 months ago

Well done Care 2 members.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Nice.

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Mark T
Mark T3 months ago

Ty.

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Winn A
Winn A3 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A3 months ago

Noted

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