Fears 'ping pong' transfers between hospitals hits care
THERE are A&E are patients being made victims of "ping pong" ambulance transfers between hospitals.
There are suggestions patients are being moved between Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital to free up beds and that care has suffered as a result.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals, confirmed there was a "daytime divert" in place in the first month after Cheltenham General had its A&E downgraded. While that practice has now stopped there are still "ad-hoc" diverts used to relieve "short term pressures".
But the Trust has stressed that such a practice was in place prior to the changes to A&E provision which has seen all emergency patients taken to Gloucester.
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The news comes as the campaign to restore A&E back to normal gathers pace with Alex Chalk, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham, joining Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood in backing Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce's Restore Emergency at Cheltenham Hospital (REaCH) campaign.
Mr Horwood said: "I have also had anecdotal evidence of people being taken to Gloucester and then being told to get a taxi home which, when you are ill, is obviously not very nice. It all underlines the need to have robust information published on how well this is working out in practice. The anecdotal evidence suggests that it is not working very well."
A spokeswoman for the foundation trust said: "To maximise the use of available beds across the sites in the first month after the changes, we had been regularly requesting a daytime divert from GRH to CGH.
"This placed additional pressure on the ambulance trust and in September this practice was stopped. We continue to work with colleagues there to rectify this; September figures show this process is starting to work more effectively.
"Even when we have a divert in place, patients will still be taken direct to the hospital which delivers the appropriate specialist services.
"In the vast majority of cases, our patients are diverted to the most appropriate hospital for their needs and we do take into account where these patients live wherever possible."
Mr Chalk said: "Losing our A&E is not something we should accept lying down. We should do everything we can to restore it."