Group shares fears for fu­ture of A&E

NHS says no de­ci­sions have been made

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Robin JENK­INS robin.jenk­[email protected]­

ACAMPAIGN group claims Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal’s Ac­ci­dent & Emer­gency fa­cil­ity could be­come like a GPS’ prac­tice.

Say­ing it was “gravely con­cerned” about pos­si­ble changes that could be made to the town’s A&E depart­ment, the Restor­ing Emer­gency and Ac­ci­dent at Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal group is­sued a state­ment.

It was re­spond­ing to the NHS in Glouces­ter­shire launch­ing an en­gage­ment ex­er­cise with the public this sum­mer and au­tumn, through its Fit for the Fu­ture doc­u­ment.

It says it is an in­vi­ta­tion to peo­ple across the county to en­gage in a con­ver­sa­tion about fu­ture ser­vices at Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal and Glouces­ter­shire Royal Hospi­tal and how ur­gent care ser­vices can best be de­liv­ered across the county.

While the NHS in­sists no de­ci­sions have been made, and says full public con­sul­ta­tion could hap­pen next year, some peo­ple fear the A&E at Chel­tenham will be fur­ther down­graded.

REACH said its ‘ex­perts’ had cre­ated a Fit for the Fu­ture Ex­plained doc­u­ment that it be­lieved ex­posed the true in­tent of Glouces­ter­shire Hospi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, which runs both hospi­tals.

REACH’S spokesman Chris Hickey said: “We have gone through their doc­u­ment in de­tail and out­lined what we con­sider to be the real mean­ing that un­der­lies their highly crafted and care­fully cho­sen words.

“Over re­cent days and weeks the NHS trust has been go­ing to great lengths to stress that no de­ci­sion has been made to shut A&E at Chel­tenham, whereas it is crys­tal clear to us that they in­tend to shut the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity and re­place it with an Ur­gent Care Cen­tre.

“This cen­tre would be manned by GPS as op­posed to spe­cial­ist emer­gency doc­tors and nurses.

“Such a fa­cil­ity would be more alike your lo­cal doc­tors’ prac­tice where you will need an ap­point­ment, than it would an A&E depart­ment.

““We hope that the gen­eral public will find this doc­u­ment use­ful and that it will en­able them to par­tic­i­pate in the cur­rent en­gage­ment process in a more in­formed man­ner.”

He added that REACH would shortly urge the public to com­plete a sur­vey based on its doc­u­ment and it would share the re­sults with the trust.

An NHS spokesman said re­cent claims about down­grad­ing Chel­tenham’s A&E were in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing and that no de­ci­sions had been made about the fu­ture range of ur­gent and emer­gency care ser­vices in the county, in­clud­ing those at Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

Pro­fes­sor Mark Pi­etroni, the trust’s direc­tor of safety and med­i­cal direc­tor, said: “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.

“It would be one way of en­sur­ing scarce spe­cial­ist staff, ex­per­tise and fa­cil­i­ties were al­ways on hand to get the right treat­ment started what­ever time of day or night and sup­port sur­vival and re­cov­ery.

“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, seven days a week for lo­cal pa­tients.

“What­ever form that ul­ti­mately takes, the ma­jor­ity of pa­tients who need ur­gent hospi­tal care, would con­tinue to ac­cess ser­vices as they do now.

“This pe­riod of en­gage­ment is an open dia­logue. It’s about dis­cussing ideas and in­volv­ing lo­cal peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing po­ten­tial so­lu­tions.

“This means that con­trary to some re­ports, no de­ci­sions have been made about the fu­ture range of ur­gent and emer­gency care ser­vices in the county, in­clud­ing those at Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal.”

Chel­tenham Gen­eral Hospi­tal’s ac­ci­dent and emer­gency depart­ment

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