All local NHS care is ‘commissioned’ on our behalf by NHS Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group (or ‘CCG’). This is led by a board of local GPs and other specialists.
Most of that NHS money locally is spent on three service ‘providers’, technically NHS Trusts with confusingly similar names and often collaborating wi the CCG as ‘One Gloucestershire’:
- Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals. The General faces many challenges but has a high reputation particularly in specialist areas like cancer and eye care. It maintains a full A&E department from 8am to 8pm (with ‘walk-in’ access at night for less serious admissions) and the much-loved St.Paul’s maternity wing.
- South West Ambulance Service, providing not just traditional ambulances but the high-tech rapid response paramedics who are often the first responders in an emergency and save many lives. The trust struggles to meet national targets for response times but this is a more serious issue in rural areas than in towns like Cheltenham.
- Gloucestershire Health & Care Foundation Trust is a relatively new NHS trust combining responsibility for local mental health services and community health and care services across Gloucestershire (and neighbouring areas) and employs hundreds of community nurses, therapists, medical and dental staff who work in hospitals, clinics, in peoples’ homes and in residential homes and elsewhere.
Other useful resources include PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), the first stop for local complaints about NHS care.
Many charities also provide local NHS services and provide extra care, support and expertise. They deserve your support too. Check out LInC, the Cobalt charity, Maggie’s beautiful centre in Cheltenham, Sue Ryder Leckhampton and Volunteering Gloucestershire, as well as local branches of many national carers and patients organisations. Local businesses like pharmacies also play an important role and can give you important advice.
Martin has taken up individual cases for local residents affected by local healthcare – even taking some cases to the Health Ombudsman for full independent investigation, and reporting major issues to the NHS regulators Monitor and the Care Quality Commission.