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Agenda item

Invitation to Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to Present its Latest Proposals for Cheltenham A&E

Councillor Stanley will propose and Councillor Jordan will second:

The Gloucestershire Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting on 15 September 2020 of the Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, proposed to extend the three month closure of Cheltenham’s Type 1 A&E Department for a further six months. 

As a Council, the work that the NHS Trust has undertaken is very much appreciated and whilst the original three month closure was understood to help keep Cheltenham General ‘COVID Free’ during the height of the COVID transmission, in order that elective surgery could be resumed, the proposed extension requires further explanation.

In particular, the Council is concerned about the proposed six month extension both in terms of the A&E at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital having the capacity to cope with all A&E patients from the whole County together with the capacity of Emergency Ambulance services and that the additional six month extension could become a long term or permanent change. 

The Council has previously received presentations from the Clinical Commissioning Group in April and October 2019.

In the light of the proposed extension of the closure of Cheltenham A&E the Council is asked to invite the Clinical Commissioning Group to a further all Member event to present their latest proposals; the detailed arrangements for which would be undertaken by Democratic Services.  

Minutes:

30.31        The Worshipful the Mayor referred to the Notice of Motion set out on the Agenda and indicated that, in accordance with the Council’s Rules of Procedure, it was necessary for the Council firstly to decide whether it wished to debate and determine the Motion at this evening’s meeting, or whether it wished to refer the Motion, without debate, to a Committee for consideration with authority either to make a decision on the matter or to bring a recommendation back to Council.  

30.32        It was agreed that the Motion would be considered at the current meeting and, in accordance with the Council’s Rules of Procedure, the proposer was invited to present the Motion. He expressed his thanks to the NHS staff and the Gloucestershire NHS Trust for all their hard work, on a day to day basis as well as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offered his thanks to the campaign, Restore Emergency at Cheltenham General Hospital (REACH) for its support with the Motion. It was understood that the three-month closure of Cheltenham General Hospital had been to keep it COVID-19 free and the extension was also for that purpose. However, he felt it was important that District Councillors were as well informed as possible prior to the consultation which was the reason for the request in the Motion; in addition, he understood that other Councils were preparing similar Motions so they were fully aware of the facts prior to the consultation. The seconder of the Motion indicated that the temporary closure of the Accident and Emergency department affected all residents and would have a potentially devastating effect if it became permanent. There had been a great deal of media coverage about the issue and she felt it would be helpful for Councillors to have the opportunity to question the Clinical Commissioning Group and hold it to account.

30.33        A Member indicated that he was not aware of anyone that did not oppose any intention to reduce or close Cheltenham Accident and Emergency department, as had been discussed when a previous Motion on the possible closure of the department had been submitted to Council. He was supportive of the sentiment of the current Motion but felt there was a need to consider COVID-19 and the role the Clinical Commissioning Group played in that and, for that reason, he proposed an amendment to make the point that, whilst the Council wanted to invite the Clinical Commissioning Group to explain its proposals, that needed to be at a time that was appropriate for them. Accordingly, he proposed “that this Council remains opposed to permanent closure or downgrading of Accident & Emergency facilities at Cheltenham General Hospital, in accordance with the Motion by Councillors Gore and Hollaway approved on 1 October 2019, and we fully support the effective work by local MPs Laurence Robertson and Alex Chalk in this regard. We thank the NHS Trust for its hard work and commitment during the COVID-19 emergency, and note that the recent three month closure of Accident and Emergency was understood to help keep Cheltenham General ‘COVID Free’ during the height of the COVID transmission, in order that elective surgery could be resumed. However, at the Gloucestershire Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting on 15 September 2020, the Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust proposed to extend the three-month closure of Cheltenham’s Type 1 Accident and Emergency Department for a further six months. We are concerned about the proposed six month extension both in terms of the Accident and Emergency at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital having the capacity to cope with all Accident and Emergency patients from the whole County together with the capacity of Emergency Ambulance services and that the additional six month extension could become a long term or permanent change. We are grateful to the Clinical Commissioning Group for responding to our previous motion in such a positive way and taking the time to present their plans to us on 18 October 2019. In view of the latest developments we would welcome further representations from the Clinical Commissioning Group on its long-term intentions, but recognise that this needs to be when critical emergency COVID-19 work allows, so we extend an invitation to the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide us with an update on their proposals at an appropriate time”. The amendment was seconded. Other Members agreed that it was right to hold the Clinical Commissioning Group to account but that had to be at the right time so it did not detract from the COVID-19 response. A Member indicated that the Clinical Commissioning Group had consistently given out ‘cast-iron’ assurances that the Accident and Emergency department at Cheltenham General Hospital would reopen and that Gloucester Royal Hospital could not cope on its own as a single Accident and Emergency site but he would like to know when numbers would allow the department to reopen and what the ‘R Rate’ would have to be – it was then that the local MPs and the County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be able to make judgments as to the genuine intentions for the Accident and Emergency department at Cheltenham General Hospital.

30.34        There was some concern about the fact that many Members had not had foresight of the amendment and it was suggested there was a need for Councillors to communicate more effectively. The proposer of the Motion, indicated that there appeared to be some confusion between frontline Accident and Emergency staff and the NHS Trust and he felt there was a need to question the Trust before the consultation – particularly as other local authorities in the county would be doing the same and he did not want Tewkesbury Borough to be at the ‘back of the queue’ in terms of being able to speak to the Trust.

30.35        The amendment, as proposed, was circulated to the Council for consideration. The proposer of the original Motion advised that he was happy to accept the amendment except for the last line which he suggested was further amended to read ‘….so we extend an invitation to the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide us with an update on their proposals at the earliest appropriate time’. This was agreed as the substantive Motion and, upon being put to the vote, it was

                 RESOLVED          That this Council remains opposed to permanent closure or              downgrading of Accident & Emergency (A&E) facilities at                           Cheltenham General Hospital, in accordance with the motion by              Councillors Gore and Hollaway approved on 1 October 2019,                     and we fully support the effective work by local MPs Laurence               Robertson and Alex Chalk in this regard.

We thank the NHS Trust for its hard work and commitment during this COVID-19 emergency, and note that the recent three month closure of A&E was understood to help keep Cheltenham General ‘COVID Free’ during the height of the COVID transmission, in order that elective surgery could be resumed.

However, at the Gloucestershire Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting on 15 September 2020, the Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust proposed to extend the three-month closure of Cheltenham’s Type 1 A&E Department for a further six months.

We are concerned about the proposed six month extension both in terms of the A&E at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital having the capacity to cope with all A&E patients from the whole County together with the capacity of Emergency Ambulance services and that the additional six month extension could become a long term or permanent change.

We are grateful to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for responding to our previous motion in such a positive way and taking the time to present their plans to us on 18 October 2019. In view of the latest developments we would welcome further representations from the CCG on its long-term intentions, but recognise that this needs to be when critical emergency COVID-19 work allows, so we extend an invitation to the CCG to provide us with an update on their proposals at the earliest appropriate time.