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ECHO COMMENT: Hospital trust must rule out moving emergency surgery from Cheltenham - and rule it out now

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 13, 2013

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SO our hospitals are "considering all the options that could improve pathways for our patients in the future". So says consultant surgeon Aidan Fowler.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – this does not mean that a significant amount of money will be spent on the footpaths in and out of Cheltenham General Hospital.

The "pathways" that Mr Fowler is referring to are part of the gobbledegook language that has become the norm in many public sector organisations and, as it seeks to defend its decisions, in the health service in particular.

What we think he means is that there are a number of different options in the way patients are treated.

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One would be centralising emergency surgery at a single county hospital – and that idea is included in a document sent to senior staff in the surgical division.

Embarrassingly for the trust, it has also been leaked to Cheltenham Conservative parliamentary candidate Alex Chalk.

Mr Fowler is adamant that it is seeking opinions, not spelling out decisions.

The problem is that we are all getting heartily sick of the on-going uncertainty surrounding Cheltenham General Hospital in particular.

While the trust continues to say that it is committed to having two "thriving" hospitals in Cheltenham and Gloucester, it becomes ever harder to believe.

The switching of night-time ambulance emergencies to Gloucester has been justified as being the most efficient use of staff across the county.

The campaigners are desperate to see a full-time service return and the trust have differing views on the impact it has had.

Mr Chalk quite rightly calls for transparency from the trust. What would be even better is a clear statement that emergency surgery will remain at Cheltenham. In any emergency, another hospital will always be too far away.

Credit to her generation

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