Re­ver­sal of de­ci­sion just the first step

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - Alex Chalk Chel­tenham MP

IAM de­lighted lo­cal NHS Trust bosses have can­celled the flawed pi­lot pro­posal to trans­fer gen­eral surgery (ab­dom­i­nal surgery) from Chel­tenham Gen­eral to Glouces­ter­shire Royal Hospital.

Chang­ing course was the right de­ci­sion, but it should not have re­quired the threat of le­gal pro­ceed­ings.

I make no apol­ogy for fight­ing these pro­pos­als tooth and nail, from the mo­ment they were an­nounced in Septem­ber.

Shift­ing such a vi­tal spe­cial­ism from Chel­tenham would have dealt a ham­mer blow to Chel­tenham’s sta­tus as a truly gen­eral hospital.

And although ex­pressed as a pi­lot, com­mon sense tells you once ro­tas are changed and staff re­dis­tributed it be­comes very dif­fi­cult to turn the clock back.

In ef­fect, Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back to­gether again.

I want to pay par­tic­u­lar trib­ute to the 58 clin­i­cians who took the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to speak out against the plans.

lthough the cam­paign had gath­ered cross-party sup­port, it was cam­paign­ers’ courage in putting their heads above the para­pet that was de­ci­sive.

Now the man­agers need to go back and do what I was as­sured in Septem­ber they would do – work up the al­ter­na­tive pro­posal.

That would bring all the county’s sched­uled, non-ur­gent gen­eral surgery to Chel­tenham, boost­ing care lo­cally. It’s a model that has been adopted suc­cess­fully else­where.

Above all this cam­paign showed the im­por­tance of act­ing de­ci­sively be­fore de­ci­sions are set in stone.

We must not rest here. We need clar­ity about the fu­ture of Chel­tenham’s A&E.

Since overnight cover was re­moved in 2013, there has been a cloud hang­ing over this vi­tal ser­vice. It is high time that cloud was lifted.

Our night nurs­ing staff do a bril­liant job, but a hospital serv­ing a town of 115,000 peo­ple needs overnight, doc­tor-led A&E cover.

The NHS is re­ceiv­ing record fund­ing, and 24/7 cover is es­sen­tial.

The cam­paign­ing work goes on.

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