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Hospitals Trust delays report that could say Cheltenham's A&E department is to be downgraded

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have paused publication of the plans that could involve a downgrading of Cheltenham's Accident and Emergency services.

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk made public his fears for the town's A&E department on Friday after receiving leaked information about the Trust's proposal.

He immediately raised the matter with health secretary Matt Hancock and the plans, which were due to be released today have been temporarily withdrawn.

Mr Chalk said: "I warmly welcome this decision. But the Trust now needs to go further and rule out downgrading Cheltenham's A&E.

"I and the thousands of people who have contacted me will challenge any such plans every step of the way.

"Downgrading Cheltenham A&E is completely unacceptable, not just for people in Cheltenham, but for those living right across the north and east of our county.

"Time and again, NHS managers told me this wasn't their plan - even that this was 'scaremongering'.

"I am so dismayed that those assurances were hollow."

Earlier today, prime minister Boris Johnson revealed government plans to plough an extra £1.8billion into the NHS thanks to a strong performing economy.

Mr Chalk has supported moves to see that funding introduced and has campaigned for Gloucestershire hospitals to get their fare share of the pot.

He added: "I am particularly angry because I supported our local NHS in their campaign for more funding - helping to secure a settlement that will see funding go up from £122bn a year to £149bn a year by 2023.

"Here in Gloucestershire the Trust has been awarded a capital grant of £39m plus an additional £10m which I personally helped to extract from the Dept of Health."

In a statement, the GHNSHFT said: "A decision has been taken to temporarily pause the next stage of the engagement process due to commence on Monday 5th August.

"This follows feedback we have received from our stakeholders about the need to do further work in advance of the engagement launch to avoid any unintended confusion between the launch of this engagement process and the formal public consultation planned towards the end of the year.

"A further update will follow next week."

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