I am absolutely delighted that Cheltenham’s multi-million pound bid for capital investment in Cheltenham General Hospital has been successful.
This is hugely significant. It means that CGH will be getting a multi-million pound upgrade, to include refitted wards for inpatients, additional theatres and plenty more besides. After a decade in which it felt like our hospital was being passed over for investment, this is so, so welcome.
I want to thank everyone who has supported this bid, from NHS staff to local campaigners. It’s been a long slog to get here. Only by coming together could we make such a strong case – both in Cheltenham, in Parliament, and in person to Jeremy Hunt.
This funding boost for our hospital is part of a pattern of major, transformational, investment in Cheltenham. From next month Cheltenham secondary schools will switch to a funding formula which will deliver major cash increases over two years – righting this historic funding injustice has been a passion of mine. In addition, £22m has been won from Government to support our cyber future which will drive world-beating opportunities for the next generation. £3m will be coming to support new affordable housing in Portland Place, and we have secured vital funding from Government to tackle rough sleeping in Cheltenham through P3 and Streetlink. Meanwhile, with the launch of the public consultation on the £500m A417 Air Ballon scheme we are a step closer to the biggest road improvement scheme in Gloucestershire for a generation.
Returning to the hospital, I also welcome the assurances from NHS bosses that this investment does not pre-determine the outcome of the STP (the strategic plan for configuration of future health services in Gloucestershire). A consultation will take place later in the year. I believe we should recommit ourselves to arguing for the retention of our local A&E, and indeed the restoration of 24/7 cover. As anyone who has used Gloucestershire Royal knows, there is simply not capacity at Gloucester to handle all the demand.
Make no mistake, the campaign to improve and revitalise Cheltenham goes on. It’s not over. There is so more to do. But this is truly fantastic news.