Plans in place to reopen Cheltenham A&E department after final three-month delay

The hospital's A&E department has been closed since last year. Credit: ITV West Country

Plans are in place to reopen Cheltenham's A&E department as health bosses confirm it will remain shut "no later" than 1 July.

Health chiefs are extending the temporary closure despite the local Covid case rate continuing to fall, along with hospital admissions.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it will continue to operate as a Minor Injury and Illness Unit (MIU), open 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

The town's A&E department was temporarily closed last June to prepare for a spike in coronavirus cases - the closure was initially only for three months.

Now health bosses have extended the closure, reportedly for the last time.

The department was closed in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: ITV West Country

Under the latest proposals, the Aveta Birth Centre at Cheltenham General Hospital will reopen on 8 March and Tewkesbury MIU from April.

Professor Mark Pietroni, director of safety and medical director at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know how well regarded the A&E service in Cheltenham is in the east of the county so this announcement will come as welcomed news.

“Whilst we all hope that we have seen the back of the worst of the pandemic, we have to remain cautious particularly over the coming months.

“In line with the Government’s own approach, plans will be guided by the evidence that changes are safe based on the rates of transmission (including any new variants of concern), hospital admissions rates and the continued success of the vaccination programme.

The plans in full

Gloucestershire's NHS, including the hospitals trust, health and care trust, and CCG, have jointly devised the temporary plans, which detail the way health services will be run until 1 July.

  • Cheltenham General Hospital continue to operate as an MIIU, seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm.

  • All 999 and undifferentiated GP referrals centralised at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

  • Acute Stroke Unit moved to Cheltenham General Hospital, but the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit will remain at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

  • Emergency and planned vascular move to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

  • Emergency urology pathway to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, but the planned urology service remains at Chletenham General Hospital.

  • The continued temporary closure of the Dilke Memorial Hospital MIIU and Vale Community Hospital MIIU until the end of June 2021.

  • Tewkesbury MIIU will open from April 1, with its usual opening hours of 8am to 8pm daily.

  • The retention of current opening hours at Lydeny, Cirencester, Stroud and North Cotswolds MIIUs, which are 8am to 8pm.

Clinical chair of NHS Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group, Dr Andy Seymour said:

“The covid-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges to the NHS and local hospitals and these temporary emergency changes have played a crucial part in supporting provision of vital health services during these unprecedented times and keeping patients as safe as possible.

“Despite the success of the on-going vaccination programme in Gloucestershire and the start of what we hope is a pattern of reduced covid-19 related hospital admissions, we are not out of the woods by any means and the NHS still faces significant pressure.

“We believe that this three month extension to a number of the temporary service changes is a pragmatic and proportionate step.” Dr Amjad Uppal, Medical Director at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a county we have responded remarkably to the covid-19 pandemic, both across the NHS and alongside partner organisations as a One Gloucestershire community.

“We are now beginning to see real progress being made, but we cannot risk going backwards and increasing the rate of infection.

“These changes have worked so far and we think another few months will support us as health services look to recover from the pandemic.

“A cautious and well planned recovery is what I’m sure we all want to see.”

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