Reversal of decision just the first step
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.