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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.
Read more: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/plans-axe-E-Cheltenham-General-Hospital-service/story-26663388-detail/story.html#ixzz3ck6FbKvz