REACH the group campaigning to protect Cheltenham General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department has strongly questioned the way a key meeting into its future has been organised and promoted.

At 2.02pm on Thursday 3rd October, REACH received a letter from the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, to advise us that an Emergency and Acute Medicine Workshop was taking place today. A copy of the letter can be read here.

It is not entirely clear whether or not this was an invitation to attend, although in all probability it was not, as there was no reference in the letter to a time or a venue. There are a number of interesting points about the timing and content of this letter:

– If the intention was to invite REACH, why was the “invitation” only sent at 2.02pm the day before the event.

– If the intention was not to invite REACH, why not? The letter states that “the role of the workshop is to involve a representative cross-section of the public in a ‘balanced room’”. REACH questions whether this can be achieved without representation from REACH as the principal group opposing any reduction in services at Cheltenham General.

– If the intention was not to invite REACH then what purpose lies behind the letter and the wording “I thought it was important to make you aware of the Emergency and Acute Medicine workshop”. If it was important, then why was so little notice given and for what purpose is it “important” (particularly if not to attend).

– If this event is part of the Engagement Process then why does it not appear in an open and transparent manner on the One Gloucestershire “Fit for the Future” web pages. As a group we have a very keen interest in all the engagement events, yet this is the first that we have heard of this event.

– By whom and how will the event be facilitated to ensure that the outcome is not steered in a particular direction.

Chris Hickey, spokesperson for REACH commented:

“It is bitterly disappointing that this seemingly quite crucial event will be taking place without a REACH representative present. The timing of this letter is quite bizarre and the purpose of notifying us in this matter is as unclear as many of the communications we have seen One Gloucestershire issue.

“The Trust seems to have quite a liking for the words open and transparent, it is just a shame that this is not reflected in their deeds and actions”.

News Story Update – 10am 4th October …. News Story Update – 10am 4th October …. News Story Update – 10am 4th October

At 9.37am on 4th October we received an email from Sophie Hopkins (Communications Officer). This email did not clarify whether or not the letter of 3rd October was intended to be an invitation or not. However it did advise us that the workshop was taking place in Gloucester at 2pm. Where in Gloucester this was taking place was not specified. The email did state that they would be happy for a delegate from REACH to attend, but at this incredibly short notice, this was not possible to arrange. The email further stated “If today’s workshop is not convenient, we would be happy to run the workshop through with you on an alternative date”. This offer will be discussed at the next REACH meeting.