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Posted 21/01/2014

REACH STILL UNHAPPY WITH HOSPITALS’ ANSWERS AT SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

A representative of REACH, the campaign to restore full-time accident and emergency services at Cheltenham Hospital, attended the County Council’s Health & Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HCOSC) meeting last week and came away more unhappy than ever even though Committee members did their best to get clear answers from the NHS Trust.

David Perry, REACH Board Member commented
“The problem is that the Trust is not giving clear and transparent answers to questions about the reconfiguration of emergency services, even those from the County’s Scrutiny Committee who represent the people of Gloucestershire and are trying to hold the NHS to account on behalf of patients and the public.   For example, how many Consultants are needed to staff fully functioning A&E Departments at both our hospitals?”

Michael Ratcliffe, Chair of REACH and Chief Executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce also commented “When the Trust decided to divert most Emergency Ambulances from Cheltenham General Hospital  to Gloucester Royal Hospital between 8pm and 8am every night from July last year, the Trust claimed that the A&E departments at each hospital needed 10 consultants. They repeated this at the HCOSC meeting last November.”

However, at last week’s meeting the Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust said that, having appointed two more consultants recently to bring the total to 14 consultants, only ‘about two more’ are needed. The Trust failed to make clear whether this would be sufficient to operate two full Accident and Emergency departments.  If this is not the case, then it is clear the Trust has no intention of restoring a 24/7 emergency service at Cheltenham, even if it could recruit the necessary consultants, contrary to the impression given to HCOSC at its November meeting.

REACH can only hope that the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Hospital Trust will be more open and transparent when it comes to the six months’ review of the A&E reconfiguration which the County Council’s Health & Care Overview and Scrutiny  Committee will be discussing this coming March

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