I am absolutely delighted that after a long campaign behind the scenes, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed to me in writing that Cheltenham General Hospital will be receiving over £36m in major new infrastructure investment.
The cash will go towards two new operating theatres opposite Cheltenham’s Oncology Centre, providing capacity to treat an additional 3,000 patients a year, as well as a new purpose-built Day Surgery Unit enabling a greater number of day case operations.
In addition, there will be extensive refurbishment of the Radiology Department and installation of new CT scanners and a MRI scanner. The improved facilities mean emergency patients accessing Cheltenham’s A&E will benefit from faster, more accurate diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRI scans. The improved patient area in radiotherapy will also enhance further the Oncology Department’s outstanding reputation, as will the establishment of a new Interventional Radiology room (spoke) to provide specialist support to Urology and Oncology services.
In announcing the investment programme, I was pleased to see the Trust leadership reiterate their commitment to Cheltenham’s A&E. As you know, I and others were concerned that the Covid-related suspension, even if justified in the short-term, might be used as a pretext for quietly pensioning the service off. In fairness to Trust bosses, they honoured the pledges they had made to me, and kept faith with the people of Cheltenham. We were all delighted when the service reopened earlier in the summer.
This latest funding announcement by the Government is the latest powerful vote of confidence in the future of Cheltenham General. It will help our dedicated NHS staff who are facing extraordinary pressure to tackle the Covid backlogs. It will also send a powerful message to the current generation of medical students: if you want a fulfilling career at the cutting edge of medicine, particularly in expert planned care, Cheltenham is the place for you.
The work begins shortly.
[Column published in the Gloucestershire Echo]