Breaking: Investigation launched into why patients wait ‘too long’ at Cheltenham and Gloucester A&E

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: June 10, 2015
Waiting times at A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital are to be investigated by watchdog Monitor.

It has opened an investigation into Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to find out why patients have been waiting too long to be seen in its A&E department.

The trust, which provides acute and specialist care at hospitals in Gloucester and Cheltenham, has been failing to see some patients in A&E within the national waiting time target of four hours. It has been missing this target for the majority of the financial year from September 2014 to 2015.

Monitor will examine why the trust is consistently failing the national A&E target and what can be done to reduce waiting times for patients.

Paul Streat, Regional Director at Monitor, said:”Some patients at the trust have been waiting too long in A&E, and this has been going on for some time. For the benefit of local people in Gloucestershire, the situation needs to improve soon.

“Over the past year we have worked with the trust and local health care organisations to identify what could be done to improve health care across the area, but we now need to look more closely at what the trust could do for its patients in A&E.”

No decision has been made by Monitor on whether action will be needed. Monitor will announce the outcome of its investigation once it is completed.

Monitor is the sector regulator of NHS-funded health care services.

A statement from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Emergency care is a whole system issue with close interdependencies across both primary as well as social care.

“We are fully committed to improving A&E waiting times and we welcome the opportunity to work with Monitor and our partners on delivering high quality patient care against this standard.

“A detailed action plan has already been implemented and we have continued to make good progress. In May the Trust narrowly missed out on the four hour wait having achieved 93.53 per cent.

“Monitor will announce the outcome of its investigation in due course.”

The Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Helen Miller said: “We share the Hospital Trust’s view that on-going and close partnership working across the health and social care community is vital to make sure that waits in Gloucestershire’s A&E departments continue to reduce and that patients always receive the right care, in the right place at the right time.

“There is a joint plan in place which includes recruiting additional staff, providing increased access to GP appointments and increasing capacity within community services. This plan is supported by significant additional investment in front line services.

“Performance against the four hour maximum wait standard is improving and we are committed to working closely with the Trust, Monitor and other partners to build on this.”

The CCG also said that attendances at the two emergency departments fell by 2.6 per cent in April and May compared to the same period last year.

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‘No plans’ to axe A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital but service downgrade is here to stay

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: June 09, 2015

A&E will not be axed at Cheltenham General Hospital – but a downgrade of services is unlikely to be reversed.

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has delivered on his 2015 General Election pledge and met with NHS chiefs to demand clarity over the future of the hospital.

And the message he received was clear: There are no plans to close A&E but there are also no plans to put it back to how it used to be.

The town’s A&E department was downgraded in July 2013 and it is now only fully functional during the day.

Overnight emergencies are sent to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital while Cheltenham deals with the walking wounded.

There have been numerous and repeated calls to reverse the downgrade but such a move looks increasingly unlikely.

Fears have been expressed in the past that Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs the General and the Royal could move to shut Cheltenham’s A&E.

Before the 2015 General Election Mr Chalk was passed a confidential internal NHS report which listed centralising emergency surgery onto one site (either Cheltenham or Gloucester) as one of the Trust’s ‘specific priorities’ over the next two years.

Mr Chalk sat down for two hours on Friday with GHNHSFT bosses and Gloucester MP Richard Graham.

During the meeting Mr Chalk received some reassurance that the Trust has no current plans to close A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital.

Mr Chalk told the Echo: ”I called this meeting because I was concerned about the future of A&E here in Cheltenham.

“A town of our size deserves a first class, acute, hospital and I am reassured to hear that the Trust has no plans to axe our A&E.

“But there is no room for complacency.

“There are challenges facing our hospital, including sorely needed more modern facilities.

“I will continue to press the case for healthcare investment here in Cheltenham.”

A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Members of our Executive team Trust met with MPs Richard Graham and Alex Chalk last week with the aim of fostering a greater understanding of the issues facing our organisation at present and in the future.

“As part of the discussions we were asked about the future of the Emergency Department at Cheltenham General Hospital.

“There are no plans on the horizon to change the current A&E arrangements, which have been in place since July 2013.

“We were able to deliver reassurance about our commitment to developing services at both our sites with a mix of more specialised services which may require a focus on one of our sites and other services which will continue to be provided on both.

Mr Chalk has also pledged to lobby the Department of Health for cash to pay for modernisations works at Cheltenham General.

He believes such work is “sorely needed”.

Meanwhile Mr Chalk and Mr Graham have outlined their willingness to support the Trust’s bid to increase training opportunities for student nurses in the county.
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