I was delighted to be invited to Cheltenham General Hospital to view progress on the major medical infrastructure project, funded by grants of over £39m. This was money that together we fought hard for two years ago, and I’m thrilled to see it now being invested.
The brand new Chedworth Surgical Unit is going up at pace on the site just opposite the Lido. Containing two new state-of-the-art operating theatres, the unit will capacity for an extra 3,000 patients a year to be treated. That will help slash waiting lists in Cheltenham, and reduce the risk of upsetting last-minute cancellations.
It will open to patients in January next year with the two new theatres opening in September 2023. I am assured that the clinical specialists are in place to staff the facilities, and the modern resources will help recruit and retain experts our town will need in the future in orthopaedics, urology, and gastro-intestinal surgery.
I was also given a tour of CGH’s Radiology Department which has recently received a major upgrade following a separate £6.5m Government grant. The investment follows delivery of the LINAC cancer-busting machines in recent years.
The money has gone towards purchased the latest Siemens scanners – CT, X-ray and MRI. For patients this equipment means smaller radiation doses, a bigger scan area, better image resolution, and improved infection control through sophisticated ventilation in the rooms themselves. All in all, better patient care.
It also means CGH now has facilities to allow stroke patients to go straight to a CT scanner. Urology patients can also go straight to interventional radiology, improving outcomes.
But we mustn’t stop here. I am campaigning to see Cheltenham develop as a centre of excellence for cancer treatment, with the establishment of a ‘Gloucestershire Cancer Institute’ based here at CGH. I remember from our successful campaign to save Cheltenham’s A&E how much local people share my passion for local healthcare.
Let us celebrate this massive step forward, and then push on for even greater progress.
[Column first published in the Glos Echo]