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We demand better than Tory health downgrades

Liberal Democrats are demanding better after NHS bosses revealed proposals for another downgrade of Cheltenham General Hospital.

The bad news comes as the Tory government continues to underfund the NHS. The latest proposals will see more emergency surgery cases treated at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, removing services from Cheltenham.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Max Wilkinson has written to NHS Trust bosses calling on them to justify the downgrade, which goes against the wishes of the vast majority of people in Cheltenham.

If the changes are approved after a consultation next year, the long-term future of Cheltenham’s A&E department will be put in doubt. It will also pave the way for a downgrade to an urgent care unit – a move backed by the town’s Conservative MP.

Max Wilkinson says: “Liberal Democrats have always backed our NHS and are deeply disturbed by the latest news. People won’t accept further downgrades at the hospital, particularly when the population is growing and society needs to care for more and more older people.

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“Governments of all colours have backed the NHS over the years, but the modern Tory party has shown itself incapable of carrying on the tradition, including our MP who vowed there would be no more cuts on his watch – local people demand better than this.

“The Liberal Democrat policy of a 1p income tax increase to fund £6billion investment in the NHS would release pressure on NHS trusts to make cuts, meaning local people would get a better service.

Local Tories have boasted about extra investment in the NHS, but it’s “jam tomorrow”. They haven’t told anyone where the money will come from. They admit themselves that spending programme won’t be complete until 2023 – in the meantime, the reality on the ground will be more service cuts."

Recently it was revealed that the damaging Tory Brexit has cost the NHS 4,000 nurses, while the national NHS recruitment crisis, caused in part by Brexit uncertainty, has resulted in 108,000 vacancies.

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