Campaigners set up steering group to overturn Cheltenham A&E night-time downgrade
CAMPAIGNERS have set up a steering group with the aim of reversing the overnight closure of Cheltenham General Hospital's emergency department to critically-ill patients
The Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG)'s decision to direct ambulances to take Cheltenham patients to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester between 8pm and 8am came into effect at the end of last month.
The steering group, led by Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Ratcliffe is considering calling for a judicial review into the decision.
In a statement, the steering group said its aims were:
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■ To get a fully-staffed and fully-functioning 24 hour A&E department reinstated at Cheltenham General Hospital;
■ To confirm with the GCCG that the decision to downgrade the A&E department was taken solely as a result of the lack of suitable members of staff;
■ To understand what steps would be taken to reverse the current position with regards to the recruitment and retention of staff;
■ To highlight the "flawed nature of the consultation process" and its "lack of transparency"
Mr Ratcliffe said: "The option to take the GCCG decision to a Judicial Review is still being actively considered.
"The decision to down grade the A&E department at Cheltenham General Hospital does not just affect over 120,000 people in Cheltenham, it also affects 80,000 people in Tewkesbury Borough and thousands in the North Cotswold area.
"We should remember that if Gloucester cannot cope with all the emergency ambulances sent to them, then the next nearest hospital is probably Bristol, not Cheltenham.
"We will work together to get a fully functioning A&E department at Cheltenham General Hospital."
Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood added: "If anything, the anger at this decision – and the way it was taken – seems to be growing.
"The group that is coming together has formidable medical, legal and campaigning expertise.
"And we all want to see the future of A&E at Cheltenham protected."