A PETITION to stop cuts to the hours provided by an A-Ray services at a Cotswold hospital has received 4450 signatures.

News broke last week that X-Ray services were to be cut from around 30 hours to 8 hours a week from November 19 at the North Cotswold Hospital, based in Moreton in Marsh.

However, at an overview and scrutiny committee held at Gloucester Shire Hall on November 13, Conservative Council representatives negotiated a reprieve through a further 8 hours of X-Ray services for North Cotswold Hospital bringing services up to 16 hours, to be reviewed every six weeks.

Skilled radiographers are needed at the more specialist Interventional Radiology (IR) units in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Therefore, the hospital will have its X-Ray services reduced.

The Minor injuries unit at the hospital is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. Previously one could sustain a break or fracture, and have it X-Rayed and plastered in Moreton, now those who have an injury at a time when there is no radiographer on duty will have to travel to Cheltenham or Gloucester.

Conservatives and Liberals have been working together on the issue.

District Councillor Alison Coggins for Moreton West ward set up a petition to campaign to 'Save the North Cotswold Hospital X-Ray Services.'

If the petition gets 5000 signatures the issue can be debated at Shire Hall.

Cllr Dilys Neil said: "As District Councillor for Stow, Maugersbury and the Swells, I am opposed to the proposed reduction to the X-Ray service at North Cotswold Hospital.

I worked as a GP in the North Cotswolds for twelve years and understand the importance of providing services at our local hospital.

In addition, the proposed cuts would mean: expensive, modern imaging equipment standing idle for most of the week, further staff needed at Cheltenham or Cirencester to cover the increased workload there, and most patients will drive to another hospital in these days when we are being encouraged to reduce our use of the motor car."

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust issued a release that said: “It has been agreed that the provision of X-Ray services in Gloucestershire will be revised on an interim basis to ensure that the most specialist services can continue to be provided safely. The temporary changes are a response to the high levels of radiographer vacancies being experienced in Gloucestershire.

Kate Hellier, chief of service and consultant physician, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT, said: “While there will be a reduction in the hours of X-Ray services in four community hospitals, this must be seen in the wider context of the clinical need to provide round the clock access to interventional radiologists who can perform life and limb saving procedures at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General.

While we recognise that for some people will result in inconvenience and may cause anxiety, the priority for us has to be in ensuring that we can provide safe and sustainable services throughout the county.”

The service currently employs 109 staff and has a 24% vacancy rate.

“The budget is there to enable us to recruit to our full level, the challenge has been attracting the appropriately skilled clinicians to join us. There just aren’t enough trained staff out there,” Dr Hellier added.