Plans for our A&E should be scrapped

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION -

LATE last week I dis­cov­ered lo­cal NHS Trust man­agers were brief­ing oth­ers on plans to down­grade the A&E at Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

They wanted to put their pro­pos­als out for a four-week `en­gage­ment,’ slap bang in the mid­dle of Au­gust while-par­lia­ment wasn’t sit­ting and many were on hol­i­day.

I was ab­so­lutely fu­ri­ous and im­me­di­ately con­tacted the Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock, who also had not been in­formed and ex­pressed his sur­prise.

Ru­mours have cir­cu­lated about plans for Chel­tenham’s A&E since 2013, when night-time ser­vices were shifted to Glouces­ter­shire Royal.

But when I have chal­lenged man­agers, time and again they have de­nied this was their plan – claim­ing it was “scare­mon­ger­ing” and they could “fore­see no sce­nario” when this might hap­pen.

I have al­ways said fur­ther cuts to Chel­tenham A&E would be com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. GRH also doesn’t have ca­pac­ity, as a lo­cal doc­tor wrote on Twit­ter this week.

It is a par­tic­u­lar be­trayal be­cause I sup­ported our lo­cal NHS in their cam­paign for more fund­ing – help­ing to se­cure a set­tle­ment that will see cash to the NHS go up from £122bil­lion a year to £149bn by 2023.

In Glouces­ter­shire the trust has been awarded a cap­i­tal grant of £39m plus an ad­di­tional £10m which I helped to un­lock.

That has helped to fund a new op­er­at­ing the­atre, as well as two new can­cer ra­dio­ther­apy ma­chines.

Since I con­tacted the Health Sec­re­tary and took to so­cial and main­stream me­dia, the trust has started to row back from the pro­posal, agree­ing to “tem­po­rar­ily pause the next stage of the en­gage­ment process.”

That’s wel­come, but they now need to go fur­ther and scrap the plans.

I am so grate­ful to the many thou­sands of peo­ple who have con­tacted me to sign my pe­ti­tion and sup­port the cam­paign, in­clud­ing the MPS for the Cotswolds and Tewkes­bury.

Go to Face­book. com/alex­chalkchelt to add your name.

Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP Chel­tenham

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