Campaigners have repeated calls for the reopening of Cheltenham’s emergency unit after yet more ambulances were left queuing outside Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Footage taken by ITV News West Country on 20 October showed up to 18 ambulances queuing outside the hospital’s A&E.
This comes after our cameras captured a similar scene in September, when around 10 ambulances were left queuing on a busy Saturday night.
The footage has sparked a response from NHS bosses, as well as campaigners who say the temporary closure of Cheltenham General Hospital’s A&E department is putting a strain on services.
Cllr Martin Horwood, of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “It paints a very alarming picture - I wouldn’t have liked to have been in the 18th ambulance myself.
We think evidence like this shows the structure of the services can’t cope - particularly A&E - without a Cheltenham A&E fully functioning.
This was echoed by Chris Hickey, who is part of the Restore Emergency at Cheltenham General Hospital (REACH) campaign group.
“This is the third time in three weeks we have been out here - ambulances queuing out of the block, people trapped in ambulances - and eight miles down the road, there is a perfectly functioning hospital which should be open,” he said.
Cheltenham’s A&E was shut in June earlier this year and turned into a minor injury and illness unit in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is due to reopen in Spring next year.
Professor Mark Pietroni, who is the Medical Director at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the queues filmed earlier this week were dealt with in under an hour.
“On occasions when ambulances arrive in quick succession, we experience queues, as was the case on Tuesday,” he said.
Importantly, through existing processes to manage surges in ambulance arrivals, swift action was taken and this was addressed within the hour. Patients are always assessed by senior clinicians on arrival and triaged accordingly to ensure anyone who is subsequently seen according to their clinical priority.