Press Release: REACH still unhappy with hospitals’ answers at Scrutiny Committee

Press Release 20/01/2014: REACH still unhappy with hospitals’ answers at Scrutiny Committee

A representative of REACH, the campaign to restore full-time accident and emergency services at Cheltenham Hospital, attended the County Council’s Health & Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HCOSC) meeting last week and came away more unhappy than ever even though Committee members did their best to get clear answers from the NHS Trust.

David Perry, REACH Board Member commented: “The problem is that the Trust is not giving clear and transparent answers to questions about the reconfiguration of emergency services, even those from the County’s Scrutiny Committee who represent the people of Gloucestershire and are trying to hold the NHS to account on behalf of patients and the public. For example, how many Consultants are needed to staff fully functioning A&E Departments at both our hospitals?”

Michael Ratcliffe, Chair of REACH and Chief Executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce also commented: “When the Trust decided to divert most Emergency Ambulances from Cheltenham General Hospital to Gloucester Royal Hospital between 8pm and 8am every night from July last year, the Trust claimed that the A&E departments at each hospital needed 10 consultants. They repeated this at the HCOSC meeting last November.”

However, at last week’s meeting the Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust said that, having appointed two more consultants recently to bring the total to 14 consultants, only ‘about two more’ are needed. The Trust failed to make clear whether this would be sufficient to operate two full Accident and Emergency departments. If this is not the case, then it is clear the Trust has no intention of restoring a 24/7 emergency service at Cheltenham, even if it could recruit the necessary consultants, contrary to the impression given to HCOSC at its November meeting.

REACH can only hope that the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Hospital Trust will be more open and transparent when it comes to the six months’ review of the A&E reconfiguration which the County Council’s Health & Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be discussing this coming March.


For further information and comment please contact Michael Ratcliffe, Chair of REACH and Chief Executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce – Tel. 01242 544549


David Perry, REACH Board Member – Tel. 07770 916407

An archive of REACH press releases is available here.

Will ambulance turnarounds in Gloucestershire be taken seriously before a fatal incident?

A member of Reach wonders “Do we have to wait for an incident like this before delays in ambulance turnarounds in Gloucestershire are taken more seriously, or the ambulance service is prepared to acknowledge the impact such delays are having on their response times: “BBC NEWS: Fred Pring died while ambulances queued outside Wrexham hospital

The nationally recommended time for ambulance turnarounds is 15 minutes and ‘no ambulance turnaround should take more than an hour’. However, Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group sets the Hospital Trust two targets:

Number of ambulance handovers delayed over 30 minutes (not 15 minutes), and

Number of ambulance handovers delayed over 60 minutes.

The target for these is not ‘x’ for ‘delays of over 30 minutes’ and ‘y’ for ‘delays of over 60 minutes’, but simply ‘< previous year’ for both.

The number of ambulance handovers exceeding these limits between April and November last year were as follows:

Handover  Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

>30 mins 131       89       77     78     98     67    101   105

>60 mins  65         8        16     19     10        9      12    10

All of the above were ‘within target’ (i.e. ‘< previous year’), with the exception of the >60 minute target in April, which was higher than the previous year, because of the prolonged winter pressure period last year compared to the year before. GCCG currently fines the Trust for ambulance handover delays on the following scale:

· 30m – 1hr £100

· 1hr-2hrs £200

· 2hrs-3hrs £300

· >3hrs £500

Up to the end of November GCCG had fined the Hospital Trust £74,600 for handovers taking >30 minutes and £30,900 for handovers taking >60 minutes.