I am delighted that Cheltenham A&E department will re-open on Wednesday 9 June.
It was tough, frankly, to accept the suspension in the first place – even if we all recognised that difficult decisions had to be made in the face of the pandemic. It was tough because whether you live in Cheltenham, Bourton-on-the-Water, or Moreton-in-Marsh, so many of us rely on Cheltenham General – and we also well understand that Gloucestershire Royal doesn’t have capacity for a county of over 600,000 people.
It’s welcome too because, given bitter past experience, some of us retained a certain cynicism about whether the ‘suspension’ would quietly morph into more permanent – even though Trust bosses gave me (several!) welcome written commitments that the A&E would be coming back.
To assure myself there were no surprises hiding in the small print, I have already been in contact with the Trust leadership. It has been confirmed to me that what is reopening is the same, consultant-led, service that was there before.
As for the overnight nurse-led service, this will resume on Wednesday 30 June. With no discourtesy to the brilliant and expert Emergency Nurse Practitioners, the campaign for overnight doctor-led care, suspended in 2013 before I became the MP, goes on.
I’m delighted too that Cheltenham General is in line for additional investment. On top of the £900,000 allocated for the refurbishment of the A&E waiting areas, we have now secured a further £6.5 million for the Radiology department.
That means emergency patients accessing Cheltenham’s A&E will benefit from three new CT scanners and an additional MRI scanner - meaning faster, more accurate and better diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRI scans. This comes on top of new LINAC (linear accelerator) cancer-fighting radiotherapy machines at CGH.
The improvement works are scheduled to be completed in the autumn.
Thank you, as ever, to the thousands of local people who have supported the hospital campaign every step of the way.