A&E future Leaders deny that plans drawn up to close unit
HEALTH leaders in Gloucestershire have denied claims Cheltenham’s hospital emergency unit will close, branding them “inaccurate” and “misleading”.
Senior members from the local NHS trust said the claims are “potentially confusing for members of the public and hospital staff ”.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced earlier this week an engagement exercise on the future of emergency medical care in Cheltenham.
One idea to remove Cheltenham General Hospital’s emergency unit to make way for specialist planned care on the site is part of the discussion the trust wants to have with the public.
The town’s MP Alex Chalk claimed on Facebook that Cheltenham’s A&E unit will be “downgraded”.
And Councillor Max Wilkinson (LD, Oakley) wrote a letter to the trust’s chief executive Deborah Lee asking if Cheltenham General would be turned into an urgent treatment centre .
That would be appointment only and led by GPS.
Professor Mark Pietroni, a medical director at the trust, said “no plans have been drawn up to close the A&E.”
The trust has reiterated that no decision has been made, and the public and staff will be consulted on any significant changes which follow from the engagement programme.
The Trust previously said it would hold an “open discussion” with residents on any changes under the Fit for the Future plan, which would examine the future of urgent and hospital care across Gloucestershire.
Services such as general surgery - the surgery of the gut - and image guided surgery are among ideas the trust wants to receive the public’s views on.
The trust has called the idea of the separation of services in Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal “centres of excellence”.
The Trust said it will set up a citizens’ jury, a public hearing a survey and drop in events.
Professor Mark Pietroni, director of safety and medical director at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We want to make it very clear that no plans have been drawn up to close A&E in Cheltenham and the current engagement is an opportunity for people to have their say on how best to deliver outstanding specialist hospital care in the future, including the nature of local A&E services.
“One idea for discussion is to create a Centre of Excellence for Emergency Care in Gloucestershire treating critical life and limb threatening conditions.
“We say very clearly in the Fit for the Future booklet that we see both Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal hospitals continuing to provide a range of same day, walk in, urgent care services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for local patients.”
Tewkesbury GP and member of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body, Dr Jeremy Welch said: “Through Fit for the Future we would like to see open, two way conversations taking place and hear everyone’s ideas.
“There will be a range of views on how the NHS can deliver leading edge care in the future and it’s important that everyone’s views are heard.”
Cheltenham General Hospital