The chairman of SOS Grantham Hostal said today the Judicial Review outcome in the case of Jayne Dawson v. United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust ( ULHT), announced publicly this week, is a welcome vindication of the concerns of Jayne Dawson and other local people reliant on Grantham and District Hospital, whose outpatient, inpatient and A&E services were snatched from them in June last year.
At that time, in response to the pandemic, ULHT decided to make Grantham & District Hospital a Covid-19 free only ‘Green site’.
The controversial decision, was made by a Hospital Trust board already in ‘special measures’.
Coun Charmaine Morgan says: “The judgement was clear, that under no circumstances, even a pandemic, is it legal to make key decisions about health services without proper consultion.
“Whilst the judge believes action was taken in good faith, neither adequate time nor sufficient information were provided by ULHT to the community. Nor were we given an opportunity to influence the decision to turn Grantham into a ‘green’ site in the first place. This decision had a huge impact on the 120,000 people.
“Inpatients and outpatients from the Grantham and District Hospital catchment area, which includes Sleaford, Newark, Melton Mowbray and villages in- between found the doors to the hospital closed virtually overnight.
“Thousands were displaced and forced to travel to other sites including Nottingham and Peterborough for care.
“This judgement should make all hospital trusts sit up and listen.
SOS Grantham Hospital are proud to have supported Jayne Dawson as witnesses in the legal case against ULHT.
“Jayne remained steadfast despite personal ordeals this year.”
Mrs Morgan sai that as a result of having campaigned for Grantham and District Hospital for over a decade, Solicitors Irwin Mitchell called for SOSGH to help with supporting evidence.
She said they used it wisely to build such a strong case that ULHT have decided not to appeal the decision.
Mrs Morgan said: “Our community is indebted to them. We will be pleased to support Irwin Mitchell again if necessary in future. We would like to publicly thank Jayne and all who subsequently worked with SOSGH gathering evidence to support Jayne’s case at a critical time, especially all who came forward to be witnesses.
“The judge was mindful of the experience of local people and recognised the impact the decision has had on our community.”
She said she has gone through the judgement in detail but main points are:
1. ULHT failed to consult, which they are legally obliged to do.
2.Whilst recognising the decision was made in good faith, had they consulted, there could have been a different outcome. Would GDH become a ‘green site’?
3.Thousands of people in the Grantham area were negatively affected by the decision. The actual loss of service without consultation has been far worse than any ‘stress’ caused by ULHT breaking the news of the changes.
4.Unless ALL services are fully restored, not only are our most vulnerable most at risk, but the future of our hospital is at stake.
Unfortunately there is still much to fight for. The hospital trust have not fully restored the services that were on site in June 2020.
ULHT announced a plan to restore some services in March. Although welcome, yet again, in March 2021 ULHT did not properly consult over its future plans for the hospital.
She said: “We were given 1.5 working days to respond.
“Key services were lost in June 2020. All must be fully restored, but some are missing from the ULHT restoration plans announced in March 2021. There have been no subsequent assurances the missing services will be fully restored.”
A. The Acute Care Unit – a fully supported unit for short and longer stay patients must be returned
B. Long stay medical wards – which had support of specialist consultants including cardio, stroke recovery and respiratory. We had up to 76 beds which changed seasonally and catered for winter pressures.
C. Full training facilities – Return all trainees including core/integrated medical trainees and all the facilities used for training including lecture theatres and 1:1 mentoring.
Without the restoration of theses services:-
Critically ill patients, including cancer patients are not being operated on at GDH because there is no ACU on site and other hospitals have backlogs. They are not supporting these patients. How many local patients have/will die unnecessarily as minor surgery only has been allowed at GDH? Patients admitted via the A&E will be transferred elsewhere if longer term acute care is needed.
Our most vulnerable elderly and chronically ill residents are at risk and facing painful long distance journeys away from their families when long hospital stays are required. We have accounts of people refusing care elsewhere faced with such an ordeal. Visitors are hugely helpful providing emotional and practical support to such patients.
The trainees are vital for the future of our hospital. They are also staffing the specialist wards as they learn. Their loss impacts on the viability of future plans for GDH and staffing levels now.
Coun Morgan continued “We are seeking legal advice as to whether the failure to FULLY restore services would amount to key changes. The loss of services referred to is hugely concerning. ULHT still have an opportunity to review their plans. We hope they will.
“However, if necessary, SOSGH will be prepared to support a further court case should Jayne, or anyone else affected, wish to pursue this matter.
“Our call for A&E 24/7 also remains. Our A&E at night was removed in August 2016 by ULHT without public consultation at 2 weeks notice. This outcome brings into question the legality of that decision too.
“We have to remain vigilant. It is clear from past experience that whilst public campaigning helps, it has taken legal action to make ULHT rethink their plans. SOSGH are willing to support any such action again if necessary. We would far rather however that ULHT reassessed their plans and followed due process in future.
“Better still, actually listen to our concerns, fully restore and maintain Grantham and District Hospital services for the benefit of all.