Construction and Infrastructure

Is £44m of spending money the panacea to Gloucestershire hospital’s woes?

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 14 August 2020 6:50

Is £44m of spending money the panacea to Gloucestershire hospital’s woes?

A day after Gloucestershire Hospital A&E lurched into critical measures, gets battered by a freak rain storm (and media coverage), news is emerging it might be sitting on a very happy secret? 

Those who watch the trials, tribulations and many triumphs of the county’s NHS trust closely will know the decision to temporarily close its Cheltenham A&E has been met with passionate protests. 

It carried the county through the pandemic with aplomb, but yesterday the monkey on its back returned when it was forced to declare a ‘critical incident’ at its A&E department in Gloucester. 

Some claim the closure of Cheltenham’s A&E is long term plan to save money, but the official messages are otherwise - that it is all about improving the service longer term. 

The Raikes Journal has learned that the Trust has just won and is yet to shout about two pots of money amounting to £43.9 million to spend on its hospitals – all cash signed off by the Department of Health and Social Care and to be ‘invested in its estate’.

The department has approved Gloucestershire NHS Trust’s outline business case (details of which have been hard to come by over the last few days), which will see it receive £39.5 million. 

And then there is an additional £4.4 million to develop for adult and paediatric urgent care which was also approved. 

Unfortunately, this is where our concrete information turns to speculation. The Raikes Journal was unable to glean any more detail of just what this all means, and whether it amounts to new money. 

Even the Department of Health and Social Care were playing hard to get when we tried to contact them yesterday (August 13). 

A sum of £39.5 million has been talked about for a few years in Gloucestershire by the NHS Trust which manages our hospitals. 

It could be entirely new, but our money is on it being part of the plans to transform Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals which were revealed in earnest back in 2018. 

Kier was the contractor named for the work and plans were duly submitted. 

The trust said at the time the planning applications were for two new theatres and an additional day surgery unit in Cheltenham. 

It said: “This will offer additional operating capacity in purpose-built facilities that will improve patient and staff experience. It will also enable us to work more efficiently, reduce waiting lists and cancel fewer operations.” 

In addition, it said the cash would also allow GRH to offer an improved emergency department, improved acute medical facilities, for faster diagnosis, assessment and treatment, redesigned outpatients and fracture clinic accommodation for orthopaedic patients, additional x-ray capacity and ward refurbishment. 

But your guess is as good as ours.

First published August 13.