Grantham A&E unit's night closure policy to remain
A decision to close a hospital accident and emergency unit overnight has been backed by the government.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) closed Grantham Hospital's unit a year ago because a lack of doctors.
In February, Lincolnshire County Council asked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to review the decision.
Mr Hunt then called for the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) review and backed its view the unit should not reopen until it had "sufficient staff".
The county council's Conservative leader Martin Hill described Mr Hunt's decision as a "disappointing result".
"The fear that this 'temporary closure' would be anything but temporary, has proved to be entirely founded", said Mr Hill.
"It is unacceptable that Grantham district has had a substantial change to hospital services for over a year without proper consultation or planning."
ULHT employs about 17 doctors across its three sites in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, and needs a minimum of 21 to keep all of them open for 24 hours.
The trust's actions led to protests from a campaign group opposed to the closure of the unit from 18:30 to 09:00.
Mr Hunt referred the closure decision to the IRP in February.
The IRP report added: "The panel considers that the time has come for an open and honest appraisal, both of the options for future emergency care delivery at Grantham and more widely across Lincolnshire."
Dr Neill Hepburn, medical director at UHLT said the trust was pleased at the panel's decision not to review the closure.
"We are also pleased they agreed with the Trust that in the interests of patient safety, we shouldn't fully reopen Grantham A&E unless there is sufficient staff.
"ULHT remains committed to fully reopening Grantham A&E but only when safe to do so," he said.