NHS chief's weekend care "anxiety" leads Cheltenham General Hospital to defend A&E
Hospital bosses have defended Cheltenham’s A&E after a national NHS chief said he would worry for his relatives if they were admitted to an emergency department at the weekend.
Professor Keith Willett, who is in charge of A&E services nationally and leading a review into them, said a lack of senior staff at weekends caused him concern.
He wrote an online piece for NHS England examining how 24/7 services “could be made to work across the NHS” in which he outlined his concerns about weekend services across the UK.
“All consultants recognise there is vulnerability in hospitals over the weekend, and I would challenge any consultant not to have a degree of anxiety if one of their own relatives was admitted to hospital at a weekend knowing the amount of current senior involvement there is,” he wrote.
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But Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, said it provides top notch care every day.
A&E in Cheltenham and Gloucester is staffed by experienced middle grade doctors, junior doctors, nurses and two consultants with one based at each site.
And from January there will be an additional senior emergency department consultant available.
From August, 999 emergency patients in Cheltenham have been taken to Gloucester between 8pm and 8am, with just the walking wounded treated at the town’s A&E.
A spokesman for the Trust said: “Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital provide excellent, high-quality services seven days a week.
“Our staff pride themselves in delivering a safe, compassionate service to patients.
“Like many other Trusts across the country, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is watching closely the national debate on any potential move towards a 24/7 NHS and how this may affect services locally.
“However, what this Trust does recognise is that standing still is not an option.
“That’s why we brought together specialist emergency doctors on one site and centralised life threatening care at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. This will ensure that patients continue to benefit from the best possible care 24/7.
“By bringing together specialist staff at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital at night time we have been able to ensure early senior assessment and decision making, which has benefited the sickest patients and delivered more robust senior medical cover around the clock.”