I'm disappointed to see the Cheltenham General Hospital Accident and Emergency unit downgraded. The decision means that between the hours of 8pm and 8am, critically ill patients will instead be taken to Gloucester.
I've quizzed senior consultants at CGH's A&E and they have assured me in plain terms that this will not mean a reduction in the quality of care for Cheltenham's residents. When experienced medical professionals tell you that, you have to listen. But I am not going to take anything for granted. I shall be scrutinising the reports and figures that the NHS trust releases in order to ensure that these changes are made efficiently and ultimately that patients in Cheltenham continue to receive the best possible standard of care. I shall also be busy talking to doctors, nurses and patients to hear from them how they think the process has been managed.
Let me make one other thing clear. I will campaign against any future proposals that seek to downgrade Cheltenham General any further. We need a concrete assurance that a general surgery facility is going to be retained at the hospital, so that operations such as appendectomies can continue to be performed quickly (and locally).