The NHS in Gloucestershire has welcomed support from the County’s Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee for a number of specialist hospital service change proposals.

The news follows a meeting of the Committee on Tuesday 4 June.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will now work to introduce the changes this year, but has agreed that in making the changes it will provide the Committee with regular performance information and that key matters such as ambulance handover times and transport will be monitored closely.

The proposals include changes to emergency care services at Cheltenham General Hospital at night time (8pm to 8am).

Night time is a time of lower demand, but medical staffing levels are more difficult to deliver. The NHS has stated that it would be particularly beneficial to bring specialist emergency medicine doctors together on one site.

‘Walk in’ patients and patients who have previously been reviewed by a GP will continue to be treated at Cheltenham General Hospital at night time. Patients with a critical illness who need treatment from emergency medicine doctors will go to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Emergency Medicine Consultant, Dr Tom Llewellyn welcomed the Committee’s support. He said:

“Our priority is to ensure that the sickest patients are seen by very skilled staff when they need to be.”

“By bringing together specialist emergency medicine staff at night time, the Trust will be able to ensure early senior assessment and decision making, which will benefit the sickest patients and there will be more robust senior medical cover, round the clock.”

Proposals for selected medical specialities were also supported by the Committee.

This includes:

  • concentrating the majority of Gastroenterology beds for non-urgent inpatient care at Cheltenham General Hospital to bring together specialist expertise
  • improving and extending facilities in the county’s cardiac intervention unit (care for patients with heart problems) at Cheltenham General Hospital
  • concentrating the service for the majority of long term respiratory conditions (e.g. lung disease) at Cheltenham General Hospital to bring together specialist expertise.

The Committee also gave their support for proposals to bring together paediatric day case care at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

The proposals relate to non-urgent care for children who need a test or procedure that doesn’t involve an overnight stay in hospital, but which cannot be carried out during an outpatient appointment.

The service includes day surgery and procedures such as infusions (delivering drugs by drip) and tests under sedation.

Comprehensive outpatient services for children to be assessed and receive the majority of simple tests, such as blood tests, will continue to be provided at both Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Commenting after the Committee meeting, Dr Miles Wagstaff, Consultant Paediatrician said:

“There is a shortage of specialist doctors and nurses to care for children and bringing together the day case services will ensure we have a sustainable model for the future and we can make best use of the expertise and resources available for the benefit of children.”

“It will deliver consistent quality of care for all children and their families wherever they live in the county in new purpose built facilities.”

Deputy Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, Dr Andy Seymour said:

“We welcome the Committee’s rigorous scrutiny of these proposals. We believe that these proposals are right for Gloucestershire. They have been developed with a priority on quality, safety and the needs of the patient and they will help to address the challenges facing the NHS.”