Over a three thousand people have signed Martin Horwood’s petition urging the local NHS to rethink their decision to close Cheltenham’s Accident and Emergency Department to ambulance admissions at night.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - who run Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal in Gloucester - have said they want to downgrade our A&E because they can't recruit enough emergency doctors to staff two A&Es round the clock. There is a national shortage of emergency doctors and long hours and training requirements are making recruitment difficult.
There is no proposal to shut A&E - yet - and 'blue light' admissions will continue during the day, while people will still be able to go to A&E themselves or be referred by their GP at any time. But Martin says there are a couple of questions the Trust need to answer:
- Have they really tried as hard as they can to fill those posts?
- Why are the changes permanent? If safety concerns mean some ambulances have to be diverted on a temporary basis, that is very different to a permanent downgrade.
- What is the long-term plan for Cheltenham? A series of other services have been centralised in Gloucester. If more downgrades to A&E follow, will we be left with a minor injuries unit serving town of 120,000 people and a significantly worse service than in Gloucester?
We will keep you informed of Martin’s campaign to protect Cheltenham’s A&E service.