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CHELTENHAM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OPPOSE THE OVERNIGHT CLOSURE OF A&E AT CHELTENHAM GENERAL HOSPITALThe final decision will be taken at an Extraordinary Board Meeting of the GCCG this Thursday (18th July) and the meeting starts at 2.00pm.
The Chamber met with Cheltenham’s MP Martin Horwood last week to express their concerns and to ask how they could work with him to prevent the ultimate closure of the A&E.
The Chamber expressed their concerns that:
• This is the thin end of the wedge and that this proposed diversion of Emergency Ambulances could lead to the actual night time closure of the A&E Department at Cheltenham General Hospital.
• Both Cheltenham and Gloucester have large and growing populations which require fully staffed A&E Departments.
• This could have a detrimental effect on both Cheltenham businesses and Cheltenham residents. It could also discourage new businesses from locating in Cheltenham
• Despite the funding being available for a fully staff A&E Department at Cheltenham General Hospital with 20 full-time Doctors only 12 staff have been recruited. We would like to know why the Trust has failed to recruit and what options they have pursued to recruit qualified staff.
• The Consultation process was flawed on two grounds: (1) the consultation document did not spell out the consequences of the Trusts proposals and (2) the consultation process was started by the PCT which during the period was abolished and replaced by the GCCG and this led to an interruption in the process.
“The Chamber will take the opportunity to ask questions at the GCCG meeting this Thursday that will cover the above points and we will be seeking to obtain a commitment from the GCCG the withdrawal of the Emergency Ambulance service to Cheltenham General Hospital will be reversed as soon as possible” commented Michael Ratcliffe, Chief Executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, “The fact that A&E waiting times at Gloucester are twice those at Cheltenham demonstrates that we need fully staffed A&E Departments in both locations. We must ask the questions whether Gloucester Royal Hospital will be able to cope with all Emergency Ambulances Services being diverted to them from next month.”
“We do not wish to be overdramatic but the Trusts proposals could cost lives due to the longer journey times.”
We agree with Martin Horwood MP when he says “It is not acceptable to systematically and permanently disadvantage a population of over 120,000 people, including neighbourhoods with high levels of health inequality…”
He continued ”I’m afraid I think this has been a very badly timed and poor consultation with the affected public and I believe it may lead to the wrong outcome for the people of Cheltenham.”
At the GCCG meeting on Thursday Michael Ratcliffe will ask the following questions:
On behalf of the members of the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce I wish to not only fully endorse the questions raised by Cheltenham’s MP, Martin Horwood but also to raise the following additional specific concerns.
1. Cheltenham has a most vibrant social and cultural night-life. There is an important need for prompt A & E treatment in Cheltenham both before 8pm and equally after 8pm.
2. Cheltenham’s Festivals continue to grow year by year bringing substantial numbers of overnight visitors to the town. Again prompt A & E attention is regularly required and will increasingly be so as the Festivals grow.
3. A residential development for NW Cheltenham, circa 4,500 homes is now being proposed. This will be the first phase of potentially 30,000+ homes to be built in this part of the county. Full A & E facilities on a 24 hour basis are absolutely essential.
4. The Chamber feels most strongly that the down-grading of the A & E Department sends a most inappropriate message to new businesses wishing to re-locate to the town that Cheltenham.
For further information and comment please contact
Michael Ratcliffe, Chief Executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce – Tel. 01242 544549
And/or Martin Horwood MP – Tel. 01242 224889
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