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Ambulance waiting time fears raised by NHS campaign group

PUBLISHED: 09:04 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 19 March 2018

Campaigners outside The Conservative Club in Weston-super-Mare.

Campaigners outside The Conservative Club in Weston-super-Mare.

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Protestors fighting to protect Weston General Hospital’s emergency department say people have had to wait two hours for an ambulance due to the ward’s overnight closure.

A&E has not been open from 10pm-8am since early July and the ‘temporary’ closure on safety grounds shows no sign of ending eight months on.

Banners calling for Weston’s A&E to be ‘saved’ were waved in Alexandra Parade on March 9 outside The Conservative Club, in Alexandra Parade.

The closure decision was taken as Weston Area Health NHS Trust did not have the staff in place to operate a 24-hour service.

Three middle-grade doctors are due to start in May which would put the department closer to its requirements, but it still needs a further five full-time consultant posts to be filled. James Rimmer, the trust’s chief executive, said he expects those vacancies will be easier to fill once the May starters arrive.

But the seeming lack of progress continues to worry the Protect Our NHS campaign team.

A spokesman said: “The protesters held a discussion about the A&E closure, during which concern was expressed about the difficulty of getting to hospital at night.

“One person with chest pain recently had a two-hour wait for an ambulance at night, and another had to pay for an £80 return taxi fare to Taunton.

“There is much concern about the impact of the closure on the ambulance service, which has to make longer journeys.”

The spokesman admitted thought that recruitment difficulties are a UK-wide issue and Weston is not an isolated case.

They added: “The demo was outside the Conservative Party venue as it has been in power for eight years, and is responsible for the appalling state the NHS finds itself in at the moment.

“Overall funding has shrunk since 2010, in spite of rising population, numbers of old people and people with complicated long lasting conditions.”

Another demonstration is planned for April 6 at 2pm outside the same venue.

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