Agenda item

NHS Fit for the Future Consultation-Council response

Report of the Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles


The Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles introduced the report, stating this followed on from the debate held on the Council motion at the last Council meeting on 16 November about the hospital trust consultation ‘Fit for the Future’ on how things should work out at Gloucestershire hospitals over the next few years. 


The report set out the council’s recommendations as part of the response to the Fit for the Future consultation which had to be submitted before 17 December.


The Cabinet Member stated that changes proposed to provision at Cheltenham General Hospital needed careful consideration, evaluation and response. It was therefore critical that the Council agreed its formal response to the consultation and made its position clear not only as a key stakeholder but also as a critical friend.  Comprehensive NHS provision in Cheltenham was critical for not just the people of Cheltenham but also those service users who received treatment from Cheltenham General Hospital throughout Gloucestershire and surrounding areas.


The Cabinet Member wished to place on record her thanks to all those working in the health care services for their commitment and humanity in doing such an incredible job.  She also referred to the unenviable timing of reorganising medical services during the current pandemic.


The Cabinet Member citied a couple of examples of incidents regarding use of Gloucester hospital as opposed to Cheltenham and the large number of patients waiting at Gloucester A&E whilst Cheltenham A&E was empty as it was now a minor injuries unit.  This situation caused pressure to staff and stress to patients. She felt it would be logical to move elective surgery to Cheltenham as Cheltenham was fully equipped to do this and then both hospitals would be fully functional.  This would also assist with proper planning for the future for the hospitals.


The response to be submitted by the Council was set out in Section 6 of the report and the Cabinet member wished to thank senior Doctors in the county who had assisted with compiling this report.  The Fit for the Future document was appended to the report but the way the questions were posed at the end of the document was queried as it was felt they guided you to vote a particular way.  The Cabinet Member urged Members and the public to read the document and to speak up as employees of the NHS were sometimes afraid to do so.


The Member hoped the Council would agree and support the response to this consultation.


There being no questions, the following points were raised by Members:

·         Agreed this was not the right time for such a major consultation and that there was definitely a capacity issue at Gloucester.  Thanks were expressed to all staff across the health services and the council needed to ensure they worked with the Trust.  The Conservative group were happy to support the response.

·         Thanks was expressed to the Cabinet Member who had been proactively working on this and had brought it to Members’ attention.  One slight typo in section 6.1 was pointed out. 

·         Concern was expressed about the shift of the acute medical take and general surgery to Gloucester, which would undermine the long term future of any A&E at Cheltenham.

·         There was clear medical evidence that increased journey and waiting times at overstretched A&E departments did impact patients’ health.

·         The issue of health and equalities was raised, as although Cheltenham was perceived as an affluent town, there were many elderly and disadvantaged residents who would struggle with transport to get to or from Gloucester.

·         Concern was expressed about the NHS management’s handling of community responses and the fear that the bad timing of the consultation could be used as an excuse to bypass many views.

·         Change is good if it benefits all but this doesn’t.  Cheltenham needs it’s A&E department.  Need to consider everything for the best interests of the people of Cheltenham.

·         Misleading phrasing in the Fit for the Future document leads to answers the management actually want.

·         The Fit for the Future leaflet was also misleading and could be interpreted as being about a new community hospital for the Forest of Dean.

·         Hope that there was robust data to support views made as anecdotal data would be counterproductive.

·         Centres of excellence should be built upon.

·         Irrespective of party, need to unite and make a strong recommendation not just to the Trust but also to the Minister. 

·         Cheltenham, as it expands with the west of Cheltenham development, and the surrounding area to the north, deserves better and it is really important that people have access to a type 1, consultant led, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, hospital with A&E.

·         Commendation was given to a robust response to the consultation.

·         Tone of report constructive, points out differences of opinion but is acting as a critical friend and this is how we make our case.

·         Many Members expressed their support for the report.


In summing up, Councillor Clucas thanked Members for a constructive debate, for their support and the comments made and she hoped to be able to include some of these into the final submission.  She also expressed her thanks to the officers involved for their work into this response.


The Chair thanked Councillor Clucas and moved to the vote.



·         The issues highlighted in section 6 of this report form the basis of the Council’s response to the Fit for the Future consultation to be submitted before 17 December.

·         The report should also be forwarded to Gloucestershire County Council’s Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) for their consideration.



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