More consultation needed over changes to Cheltenham A&E
MORE needs to be done to get input from residents over the plans to close Cheltenham's A&E to major emergencies at night, county councillors have demanded.
They have warned that the current proposals, put forward by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have caused panic among patients.
A formal consultation on the shake-up was started by the trust on February 1.
Councillor Gordon Shurmer (C, Ashchurch, Cleeve and Oxenton Hill) said: "I'm struggling to see the case for moving it to Gloucester instead of Cheltenham."
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The trust wants ambulances to take all emergency patients to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital between 8pm and 8am.
Other services will be changed to help GRH cope with the extra patients.
On average Cheltenham deals with 16 emergency cases from 8pm to 8am. Gloucester deals with 24.
Councillors admitted they were surprised by numbers given by the trust given Cheltenham's reputation for its active nightlife.
Councillor Charmian Ruth Sheppard (LD, St Mark's, St Paul's and St Peter's) said: "It would be useful to have a deeper breakdown of those numbers."
Concerns were also raised about how it would impact the ambulance service and people getting home from hospital.
But Dr Sally Pearson, director of clinical strategy at the trust, said: "It's not the responsibility of the health service to sort out transport for people to go home."
She insisted Cheltenham A&E was not going to be closed or turned into a minor injury unit.
The trust said the changes were being introduced to counter a shortage of doctors, leading to a lack of cover for both emergency departments.
There were also concerns that trainee doctors were not being properly supervised.
Severn Deanery, which oversees the training of doctors in the area, had warned trainee doctors would be sent elsewhere if the issue was not resolved.
Ambulance Service executive officer executive Neil le Chavalier said it was not objecting to the proposals but did have 'concerns'. The two hospitals are about nine miles apart and he said taking more patients to Gloucester would increase their mileage and costs.
Have your say at www.nhsglos.nhs.uk