No return to overnight A and E provision at Cheltenham general hospital

December 19, 2017 6:22 PM

No return to overnight A & E provision at Cheltenham General Hospital -
So say the Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Trust for Gloucestershire

Cheltenham General Hospital

Cheltenham A and E

At a seminar for Cheltenham Borough Councillors this week, Deborah Lee, CEO of the Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust and Mary Hutton, who leads on Gloucestershire's Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, both made it absolutely clear that there was no chance whatsoever of their agreeing to Cheltenham General Hospital reverting to a full 24/7 A & E facility.

So, despite Cheltenham Tory MP Alex Chalk's fine words and promises to restore our overnight A & E, he capitulated to urgent care which made it easier for this outcome to be imposed on us. And, despite the Prime Minister's fine words at Prime Minister's Questions saying that the Trust would listen to the views of local residents, this has clearly not been the case here.

The Trust argue that their decision is to ensure the safety of the public. What they really mean is that they cannot afford to recruit sufficient specialist clinicians to staff two overnight A & E departments in the county. Why can't they afford to do so? Because, like local authorities, the police and other public sector bodies, the NHS has been starved of much needed funds by central government as, first, George Osborne and now Phillip Hammond obsessively pursue a policy of austerity.

As Lib Dem Councillor Dennis Parsons points out 'the truth is that public safety is put at risk by the absence of an overnight A & E facility at Cheltenham. This means that Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough residents in areas such as Bishop's Cleeve and Winchcombe need to traipse all the way to Gloucester while suffering injury or illness that may or may not be life threatening.' .

The Liberal Democrats have argued and will continue to argue for a penny on income tax to raise £6 billion specifically ring-fenced to provide improvements in NHS and social care.

The Liberal Democrats owe it to the people of Cheltenham and surrounding area never to stop campaigning for a fairer funding solution and the restoration of a full time 24/7 A & E Department at Cheltenham General Hospital.