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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham's A&E given reopening date

Cheltenham General Hospital's A&E will reopen 24 hours by July 1 under plans to update NHS provisions as coronavirus cases and hospital admissions continue to fall.

Tewkesbury's minor injury and illness unit will reopen next month while the Aveta Birth Centre, which was converted to a temporary surgical ward during the third wave of the pandemic, will reopen next week.

The changes are part of plans for a three-month extension to a range of service change which were presented by the NHS to the county's health overview and scrutiny committee.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group clinical chair 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 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 this three-month extension to a number of the temporary service changes is a pragmatic and proportionate step."

The plans will extend emergency general surgery moving from Cheltenham to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and the town's emergency department operating as minor injury and illness unit from 8am-8pm for a further three months.

It will revert to a 24-hour A& - nurse-led from 8pm-8am - no later than July 1.

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 so this announcement will come as welcome news.

"While we all hope we have seen the back of the worst of the pandemic, we have to remain cautious particularly over the coming months.

"We know that the service changes which we implemented during the pandemic have reduced transmission among staff and patients as well as enabling us to provide planned care and cancer diagnosis and treatment, especially to those patients who are most vulnerable."

The plans will also see a further three-month extension to a series of temporary service changes:

  • All 999 and undifferentiated (uncertain diagnosis) GP referrals centralised at GRH, including centralisation of the Acute Medical Take. A significant number of patients whose hospital care starts with assessment or admission at GRH transfer to inpatient beds at CGH
  • Acute Stroke Unit moved to CGH, although the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit remains at GRH). Reallocation of beds at the Vale hospital, Dursley provides additional capacity in stroke rehabilitation care
  • Emergency and elective vascular surgery move to GRH, although as part of the winter plan more elective vascular activity will be delivered from CGH.
  • Emergency Urology pathway to GRH with planned pathways remaining at CGH.

The countywide plans also include:

  • A three-month extension to the temporary reallocation of six general rehabilitation beds at the Vale hospital to provide additional capacity for stroke rehabilitation.
  • The continued temporary closure of the Dilke Memorial Hospital minor injury and illness unit in Cinderford which was closed in March and will remain closed until the end of June.
  • The continued temporary closure of the Vale Community Hospital minor injury and illness unit which was closed in December and until the end of June.
  • The retention of the current opening hours at Lydney, Cirencester, Stroud and North Cotswolds minor injury and illness units (8am-8pm).

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