Restore Emergency at Cheltenham General Hospital (REACH) is launching what it considers to be a crucial and timely survey to gather patients’ views on planned surgery and patient information during the COVID 19 Crisis. REACH is making the survey available to both the people of Gloucestershire and the wider UK population as it is such an important issue that Hospital Trusts around the UK are having to grapple with. It will then publish the results from the survey in July. REACH is concerned that vulnerable patients needing emergency treatment must go to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where COVID 19 cases are also being dealt with.

As the world readjusts to a new normal, the NHS is quite rightly keen to restart the process of performing planned surgery on the growing number of patients on hospital waiting lists. As each NHS Trust owes a duty of care to every patient, the hospital managers in each NHS Trust must consider the best possible separation of these patient groups, given the physical assets of each Trust. This is to reduce the risk for patients undergoing planned surgery acquiring COVID during their hospital stay with its potentially catastrophic consequences. The survey can be found here. REACH have also produced a document titled “Restarting planned surgery in the COVID 19 era and important information for all patients on hospital waiting lists” (click here to read it) which respondents are encouraged to read before completing the survey.

Michael Ratcliffe, Chairman of REACH commented: “Here in Gloucestershire, Cheltenham General Hospital A&E has temporarily become a minor injuries unit with all other emergencies directed towards Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The Trust has stated that this will ensure that Cheltenham General is a “COVID free” or “COVID protected” hospital, where planned surgery can occur with minimal risk of COVID infection. With planned surgery, steps can be taken to ensure patients are COVID free, but patients admitted through emergency departments are assumed to be potentially COVID positive, pending COVID swab test results.”

“Given the potential risk of COVID transmission between emergency and planned surgical patients we were surprised to learn that planned surgery patients with the highest risk of serious harm from COVID will continue to have operations at Gloucestershire Royal. It was this fact that first sparked the idea of the survey”. “We are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in this survey, both from within Gloucestershire and other parts of the UK. We very much hope that this will provide invaluable insight into patients’ views on planned surgery during COVID 19 and the information they receive”.