Plans to close Cheltenham's accident and emergency department have been confirmed - a move described as a terrible idea by the town's MP.
Trust managers in Gloucestershire are expected to officially confirm the closure plans next week.
That will means there will be no emergency admissions to Cheltenham during the day, with patients being taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital instead. The unit is currently shut overnight.
Alex Chalk, the Conservative MP for Cheltenham, says the proposals will see the accident and emergency department downgraded to an Urgent Treatment Centre, and has set up a petition against the changes.
He said that it was a “bad proposal” and “a flawed way of engaging about it”. He has said he will be doing everything in his power to stop it from happening.
First of all, going about it in this way is cynical and completely wrong, but second, this is a terrible idea. There isn’t the capacity at Gloucestershire Royal and constituents of mine, if they are in the East of Cheltenham, will have a really long distance to go all the way through Cheltenham down the A40 and then to Gloucester. Plus all those people who live in the towns and villages around Cheltenham, who look to Cheltenham’s A&E to serve them for those really vital emergency services.
Campaigners in the town, which has a population of 120,000, say the unit is crucial.
Max Wilkinson, Cheltenham Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, has condemned Alex Chalk's statement.
Before Alex Chalk was the MP, he criticised Cheltenham people on his leaflets for signing a local petition to stop the downgrade of the A&E department, saying it made no difference. He told us a plan of action was needed and he was elected on a platform of getting the A&E department reopened fully. But now he’s admitted that the hospitals trust is ignoring him and planning to close the A&E department anyway. This is another failure to add to the list, alongside the crisis in local schools funding and the scaling back of upgrades at the railway station that have both happened on his watch.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust made the following statement:
When launched, this will very much be a process of engagement; we really want to hear what people think about how services could be provided in the future and have a genuine and open discussion about this.