Cheltenham A&E closure consultation 'paused' after outcry

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Image caption,
Plans to downgrade A&E services in Gloucestershire have been a controversial subject

A consultation on the future of emergency medical care in Cheltenham has been delayed.

The town's MP Alex Chalk claimed on Friday that the town's A&E unit was to be downgraded.

He condemned the decision, saying the timing of it was "cynical" and he was "astonished and dismayed".

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said no decisions had been made, and the planned consultation had been "temporarily paused".

The trust previously said it would hold an "open discussion" with residents on any changes under the Fit for the Future plan, which would examine the future of urgent and hospital care across Gloucestershire.

On Monday it announced a delay to the consultation.

'Unintended confusion'

The trust said: "No decisions have yet been made and any significant proposals for change would be subject to a full consultation process.

"A decision has been taken to temporarily pause the next stage of the engagement process due to commence on Monday.

"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."

Councillor Tim Harman, Conservative group leader on Cheltenham Borough Council, demanded an emergency meeting and said A&E decisions cannot be "kicked into the long grass".

Mr Harman said: "I want the full council to back [the] call for these proposals to be dropped completely.

"We can't go back to the bad old days when Cheltenham NHS was treated as a second-class service by local managers."

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