Footage shows ambulances queuing at Gloucester as pressure mounts to reopen Cheltenham A&E

There are calls to reopen Cheltenham's A&E unit after images emerged of ten ambulances queuing in Gloucester.

The exclusive footage was taken on a Saturday night when around 70 patients were waiting up to four and a half hours to be seen by doctors at Gloucestershire Royal.

Campaigners say the temporary downgrade of Cheltenham General's A&E unit - introduced during the pandemic - is putting unbearable strain on staff at Gloucester, where ambulances are now being sent.

Cheltenham General's A&E department was temporarily closed to patients in June. Credit: PA images

Chris Hickey is one of those campaigners. He, and the campaign group REACH (Restore Emergency At Cheltenham General Hospital), want full A&E facilities to the town's hospital as soon as possible.

He described the footage as "shocking and depressing."

It's shocking, and depressing and really worrying. We know with extensive contacts with ambulance staff and extensive contacts with A&E that they are at breaking point and that the answer is absolutely clear, make plans for reopening this building the top of your priority.

Chris Hickey, REACH

Cheltenham's MP Alex Chalk is among those voices calling for the emergency department to reopen. He says the pictures only illustrate how badly needed the town's A&E unit is.

I recognise that it will reopen in Cheltenham, I accept that at face value, but we need it quickly and those pictures make that crystal clear.

Alex Chalk MP, Con, Cheltenham

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says it has opened up additional space at Gloucester and created a second channel for ambulances which can bypass A&E.

The trust has repeatedly said that the current arrangements are only temporary.  But what they haven't said is how long the arrangement will last,