Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 09:55 UK

Beds closure plan for Gloucestershire hospitals revised

Cheltenham General Hospital
The cuts for Cheltenham General have been shelved for now.

Controversial plans to close up to 200 beds at Gloucestershire's two main hospitals have been revised.

The money-saving plan was announced by health chiefs in February and the first phase was due to begin on 1 April.

Councillors condemned the move and the closures were delayed as the plans were put out to public consultation.

The NHS hospitals trust has agreed to save 40 beds at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and put 55 on standby if needed, but these may be closed later.

The cuts for Cheltenham General Hospital, which had not been fully laid out, have been shelved for now.

Changes monitored

Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of the hospitals trust, admitted the issue had not been handled well.

He said: "You learn things and you move on.

"We've set up a group and we're going to look at how we're going to engage with the public in the future."

He added the changes would be monitored but he could not rule out cuts in the future.

"We don't know what the policies of the new government are, there's no doubt there'll be an impact at some stage on health," he said.

"Health care evolves all the time. Clinical practice changes and we have to respond to that."

Andrew Gravells, chairman of the county council's health overview and scrutiny committee which called for the public consultation, said the committee would also be monitoring the changes.

"If at the end of the day, you've implemented all the various things you have to do to make this work and the beds are still on standby and not needed, then maybe at that point, we'll be able to say, 'yes, those 55 beds are no longer needed'," he said.

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