Campaign launced to save Cheltenham A&E
1:00pm Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
A CAMPAIGN is underway to get a fully functioning A&E department reinstated at Cheltenham General Hospital following the decision to downgrade services overnight.
Spearheaded by Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, the campaign has been launched to oppose the closure of the town’s A&E department to ambulance admissions between 8pm and 8am.
Last month, members of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group voted unanimously to scale back nighttime A&E services to the point where only the walking wounded would be treated at the hospital.
Due to a shortage of highly-trained staff they said the changes, which now see ‘blue-light’ out of hours emergency cases diverted to Gloucester, were essential for patient safety and upholding current standards of care.
However, campaigners want to see a fully-staffed and fully-operational 24-hour A&E service restored in Cheltenham as soon as possible.
At a meeting on Thursday, opponents of the downgrade, including the town’s MP Martin Horwood, NHS community representatives and protest group 38 Degrees Gloucestershire, agreed to form a steering group to lead the fight against the cutbacks.
Campaigners said they intend to highlight the ‘flawed nature of the consultation process’ and its ‘lack of transparency’.
Michael Ratcliffe, the chief executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, which has already threatened legal action in response to the changes, has been appointed chairman of the steering group.
He said: "The decision to downgrade the A&E Department at Cheltenham General Hospital does not just affect over 120,000 people in Cheltenham it also affects 80,000 people in Tewkesbury Borough and thousands in the north Cotswold area.
We should remember that if Gloucester cannot cope with all the emergency ambulances sent to them then the next nearest hospital is probably Bristol rather than Cheltenham."
Clinical chairman of NHS GCCG, Dr Helen Miller, said: "There is recognition that the service change proposal, developed by clinicians, is designed to ensure early senior assessment and decision making when patients arrive at hospital and more robust senior medical cover, round the clock.
"We have had honest and open discussions with representatives from the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce recently and hope that positive partnership working can continue into the future.”
Comments are closed on this article.