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Gloucestershire Business News

Accident and Emergency will remain in Cheltenham, health secretary confirms

Cheltenham's Accident and Emergency Department has been saved from closure, to the delight of the three Gloucestershire MPs and the cross-party action group who campaigned to save it.

Health secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in the House of Commons yesterday, in response to a question by Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk.

Mr Chalk, alongside Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson and the member for the Cotswolds Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown have led a fight to oppose the possible moving of A&E from the town.

Earlier this year, Mr Chalk published details of a leaked proposal from the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to reorganise Chetlenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals.

The plans would have seen Gloucestershire Royal become a 'centre of excellence for emergency care' while Cheltenham would have been a centre for planned care.

Those plans have always been strenuously denied by the NHS, but yesterday's Commons statement seems to end the matter, with Mr Hancock giving an emphatic response to Mr Chalk's query.

"In light of the extensive representations that my honourable friend made regarding the A&E in Cheltenham," he said.

"I have spoken to the chief executive of the Gloucester Hospitals Trust and I can announce the A&E will remain open and that no proposals to close the A&E in Cheltenham will be part of the forthcoming consultation."

Reacting to the news, Mr Chalk took to social media to say: "Closure of our A&E has been taken off the table and will not form part of proposals put out for consultation in the New Year.

"This is truly fantastic news, and it's a tribute to the the fighting spirit of local people. I am so grateful to the 20,000+ residents who signed my petition and the hundreds who responded to the engagement. This would not have happened without your incredible support.

"Special thanks too to cross-Party campaign group REACH, who have been fighting this fight for many years - ever since the 2013 downgrade. Their work has been amazing.

"There will be more fights to come I'm sure. But let us today celebrate a great day for Cheltenham and everyone who cares about local health services."

Cheltenham's A&E was 'downgraded' in 2013 with emergency admissions between 8pm and 8am taken to Gloucestershire Royal instead of Cheltenham.

But this news means that any further closures have been ruled out.

Tewkesbury's MP Laurence Robertson tweeted his delight at the news, posting a picture alongside the health secretary and calling the decision "great news"

This Punchline reporter can also praise the news having been fortunate - or unfortunate - enough to sample the outstanding care on offer at Cheltenham's A&E.

After dislocating my left knee in a freak accident on a Saturday morning, a 999 call saw an ambulance crew dispatched just after 8am.

The knee was 'relocated', X-rays taken, knee brace applied, crutches given and I was sent on my way home by 10.30am that same morning.  To a man and woman, they were all exceptional.

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