Cru­cial date in bat­tle to save A&E

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP for Chel­tenham

NEXT Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 14, will be a cru­cial date in the cam­paign to save Chel­tenham’s A&E.

It’s the dead­line for mem­bers of the pub­lic to re­spond to the “en­gage­ment ex­er­cise” be­ing run by lo­cal health bosses (One Glouces­ter­shire) on the fu­ture of health­care in Glouces­ter­shire.

This “en­gage­ment” mat­ters be­cause One Glouces­ter­shire state that the feed­back will “in­form fu­ture plan­ning” for the firm pro­pos­als that will go out for statu­tory con­sul­ta­tion in Jan­uary 2020.

In other words, what the pub­lic says now will help de­cide whether Chel­tenham keeps its A&E.

It’s al­ready clear what the pub­lic think. Nearly 20,000 peo­ple have signed my pe­ti­tion to keep this vi­tal fa­cil­ity open, and that num­ber is ris­ing ev­ery day. But de­spite this, One Glouces­ter­shire have de­clined to take clo­sure off the ta­ble. And my con­cern, based on cor­re­spon­dence leaked ear­lier this year, is that shut­ting A&E is in re­al­ity the set­tled plan.

I pas­sion­ately be­lieve there could be no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for such a dras­tic move. Quite apart from the in­creased travel time, Glouces­ter­shire Royal is al­ready at ca­pac­ity. And with more homes be­ing built in the county ev­ery year, how could GRH con­ceiv­ably ab­sorb the ex­tra 140 pa­tients a day seen at Chel­tenham?

Mean­while, the NHS bud­get in Eng­land is ris­ing from £122 bil­lion a year in 2019 to £149 bil­lion a year in 2023, and Glouces­ter­shire’s hos­pi­tals bud­get went up by 7% in the last twelve months. This has never been about money.

So if you haven’t had the chance to fill out their sur­vey, now re­ally is the time to make your voice heard.

Please go to smart­sur­­forthe­fu­ture/ to pro­vide a per­sonal re­sponse. Al­ter­na­tively, if you agree with the an­swers to the en­gage­ment that I’ve drafted on my web­site – alex­ – email me at [email protected]­lia­ to con­firm (with your post­code if pos­si­ble). I will en­sure that your views are sub­mit­ted. There’s no time to waste.

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