Cheltenham A& E would 'never close' under the Tories, says Health Secretary

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins on a visit to Cheltenham with Conservative candidate Alex Chalk
-Credit: (Image: Will Luker)

Cheltenham General Hospital's Accident and Emergency department will never be at risk of closure under the Tories, says Health Secretary Victoria Atkins. She made the comments while on a visit to Cheltenham in support of her colleague Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary and Conservative candidate for Cheltenham.

Mr Chalk is one of seven Tory candidates in Gloucestershire with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on a recent visit to the county confident his former parliamentary colleagues will "do well". Ms Atkins was asked on Tuesday (June 18) by Gloucestershire Live to give a guarantee on Cheltenham General Hospital's Accident and Emergency Unit future and if there was no potential risk of any further downgrades.

She said: "I cannot see under a Conservative government how that would happen. I am convinced of the need for an A&E in Cheltenham remaining.

"The pandemic has taken its toll but what we have tried to do with our Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan is put in place measures that can help A&E units across the country including Cheltenham and I'm committed to the A&E here in the town."

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She also addressed concerns about A&E waiting times in Gloucestershire, adding: "We are listening with clinicians and managers to what they need locally and we are seeing performances improve but I've also set the challenge to the national health system to monitor and reduce long waits. I want to reform our NHS to make it faster, simpler and fairer."

The other candidates in Cheltenham alongside Alex Chalk are Max Wilkinson for the Liberal Democrats, Lara Chaplin for Labour, Daniel Wilson for the Greens and Daud McDonald as an independent candidate.