Originally published 1 August 2016.
Cheltenham's Lib Dem parliamentary candidate has commented on the regulator NHS Improvement's announcement that it would be giving 'extra support' to Gloucestershire Hoipositals NHS Trust to reduce A&E waiting times: 'NHS Improvement have now recognised what local people have been saying for years: that the A&E system in Gloucestershire isn't working.'
You can log on every evening to watch the four-hour queues building up at Gloucester Royal while night-time ambulances are still being diverted there from Cheltenham.
This means overcrowding in Gloucester and a less safe service for people in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds - just as I warned in 2013 when the decision was taken to downgrade Cheltenham because Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust had failed to recruit enough consultants to fully staff A&Es at both Cheltenham and Gloucester.
I had 100% support at that critical meeting from Cheltenham's Chamber of Commerce and from Cotswolds LibDem candidate Paul Hodgkinson but the Tory MP for the Costwolds and then Conservative candidate for Cheltenham Alex Chalk were notable absentees.
I'm pleased our new Tory MP has woken up to this issue now but we shouldn't just be calling for yet another review. We should be crystal clear we want a fully-staffed and full-service A&E back in Cheltenham as soon as possible.
Nationally, it would help if the Conservatives actually delivered some of the money they promised for the NHS during the Brexit campaign. As a country we're now spending just 9% of our national wealth on health, compared to 11% in France and Germany.
I know that won't happen overnight and that the Trust's new leadership can't wave a magic wand but we're lucky enough to have a well-informed and energetic chair for our local health scrutiny committee in Cllr Iain Dobie. He and his colleagues can now summon local NHS leaders to explain their long-term plan. I think the Trust and local NHS commissioners should commit to recruiting enough staff to bring back a full-service A&E in Cheltenham and set a timetable for making this happen.'