This article was originally published on the website Gloucestershire Live and the comments from Cheltenham Borough Council are from Councillor Flo Clucas, Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles. 

The Hospitals’ Trust has been holding a Hearing into their consultation document called Fit for the Future which outlines proposals for our hospital’s future.

I was very pleased to appear before the Hearing putting Cheltenham’s case for a fully functioning A&E Department and asking questions as to the type of A&E that would be at the hospital.

The NHS lists four kinds of A&E Department. Type 1, fully functioning A&E Departments which Cheltenham and Gloucester have. Type 2, which is a specialist unit dealing with opthalmology and other specialisms. Type 3, which is an Urgent Care Unit, staffed by GPs or nurses and Type 4, which is a minor injuries unit.

All four are classified as A&E Departments.

Type 1 A&E Departments have a Consultant to head them up and experienced emergency doctors and nurses to staff them. They can look after the most seriously ill patients.

The Trust’s proposals included having two Urgent Treatment Centres in the County. One would be in Cheltenham Hospital and one in Gloucester Royal. But the proposals fail to say that this would have downgraded the A&E in Cheltenham from Type 1 to Type 3. In addition, Gloucester Royal would have had a Centre of Excellence.

Downgrading our A&E would have had significant consequences not just for Cheltenham but across the county and beyond. Patients would have been denied a service that also supported a range of services at the hospital, from Cancer Care to Vascular Surgery. This would have put more pressure on an already stretched Gloucester A&E Department.

The Council had expressed concern and thousands of local residents signed petitions to keep open Cheltenham Hospital’s A&E Department. While campaign group REACH coordinated the local response.

Following an announcement from the Secretary of State, we were able to clarify from the Hospitals’ Trust at the Hearing that Cheltenham would retain its Type 1 Facility. This is very welcome and fantastic news for all those fighting to save it.

Thanks to all who committed to the fight, but it isn’t over until we have a long term guarantee from the Trust that Cheltenham will keep its Type 1 A&E Department.