9 Nov 2020, 12:18 p.m.

Fit for the Future is part of the NHS in Gloucestershire’s vision for specialist hospital services at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals.

The local NHS wants Gloucestershire to be ‘at the leading edge of healthcare’ at it starts a public consultation (from 22 October 2020) on how best to provide specialist hospital services across the Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital sites in the future.

The NHS is looking to:

  • Improve health outcomes for patients
  • Reduce waiting times and limit the number of operations that are cancelled
  • Make sure patients are always assessed by the right hospital specialist with timely decisions about their treatment and care
  • Ensure there are always safe staffing levels, including senior doctors available 24/7 and teams have the best equipment and facilities
  • Support joint working between services to reduce the number of hospital visits people have to make
  • Create flagship centres for research, training and learning – attracting and keeping the best staff in Gloucestershire
  • Deliver more specialist services in Gloucestershire to enable people to receive care locally rather than travelling to Bristol, Birmingham and Oxford as they do now.

The NHS is seeking the views of the public and staff on options for organising the following services:

  • Acute Medicine (acute medical take)
  • Gastroenterology inpatient services – medical care for stomach, pancreas, bowel or liver problems
  • General Surgery – conditions relating to the gut. Services: emergency general surgery, planned Lower Gastrointestinal [GI] / colorectal surgery and day case Upper and Lower GI surgery
  • Image Guided Interventional Surgery (IGIS) – where surgeons use instruments with live images to guide the surgery including following a heart attack, trauma and cancer. Services: interventional radiology, interventional cardiology and vascular surgery
  • Trauma and Orthopaedic inpatient services (T&O) – diagnosis and treatment of conditions relating to the bones and joints.

There are no proposals to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s A&E Department or to change the pre COVID-19 opening hours.

The consultation follows an extensive period of public and staff engagement which has shaped these proposals considerably. People can find information on how options for services were arrived at and the public engagement that supported it in the consultation booklet.

Because of the current COVID-19 situation, the NHS will be reaching out to people in a number of ways and offering a wider range of consultation activities, including on-line options, to reflect that.

Medical Director at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Prof Mark Pietroni said:

“In Gloucestershire we are aiming high. We want local people and their families to have access to the very best healthcare.

We are very fortunate in Gloucestershire. We have two large hospital sites that offer us a fantastic opportunity to provide care and services that are amongst the best in England.

The feedback from staff and public engagement showed there is support to continue to develop a ‘centres of excellence’ approach, which reflects the way a number of inpatient services are already concentrated in one place, such as cancer care in Cheltenham and children’s services in Gloucester

For our hospitals, we want to see two thriving, vibrant sites with strong identities and both providing world class, leading edge treatment.”

Urgent care lead at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, Dr Jeremy Welch said:

“There is a real ambition in Gloucestershire to deliver truly outstanding care at the county’s two large hospital sites and this consultation is an opportunity to feedback on the options put forward for a number of services.

We would urge local people and staff to get involved in this important consultation from 22 October and ensure Gloucestershire hospitals are well placed to face future challenges and seize the exciting opportunities that exist for local services.”

The NHS is open to receiving feedback until 17 December 2020.

A independently run online Citizens’ Jury will be held in January 2021 to consider the feedback and make recommendations. People from across Gloucestershire will be selected and paid to take part.

A consultation review period will follow before final decisions are made by NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group in March 2021.

In Gloucestershire we are aiming high. We want local people and their families to have access to the very best healthcare

Professor Mark Pietroni: Medical Director