Cheltenham A&E will not close, Health Secretary says

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Image copyright Jaggery
Image caption The plans for Cheltenham's A&E unit were outlined in a consultation document called Fit for the Future

Cheltenham General Hospital's A&E unit is to remain open, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was considering moving out-of-hours general surgery from Cheltenham to Gloucester.

But residents, surgeons and local MP Alex Chalk raised concerns the move could put patients at risk.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said there were no current plans to shut the unit.

In August, Mr Chalk was leaked a copy of the consultation document.

It outlined proposals to change the way hospital care is delivered by "creating a centre of excellence for emergency care in Gloucester and a centre for excellence for planned care in Cheltenham".

This sparked fears there would only be one A&E in Gloucester, prompting public campaigns against the proposal.

'Absolutely delighted'

Mr Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham, asked the health secretary in the House of Commons for his thoughts on the future of the emergency unit.

Mr Hancock replied: "No proposals to close the A&E at Cheltenham will be part of the forthcoming consultation."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Chalk said he was "absolutely delighted", adding: "There has been a cloud hanging over Cheltenham A&E when it was downgraded and closed at night-time.

He said Mr Hancock's reassurance was "like the clouds broke".

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was "pleased to have had the support today of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in communicating our message that there are no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E".

"The current Fit for the Future engagement is about sharing the challenges facing health services in the county and providing an opportunity for people to share their ideas and have their say on how best to deliver outstanding specialist hospital care in the future, including local A&E services," he added.