Waiting room secured for patients sent to Bristol during Weston General Hospital’s nighttime A&E closure
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 February 2018
Patients who are treated in a Bristol hospital because Weston-super-Mare’s A&E is closed overnight will now get a warm place to wait if they are discharged before 6am, thanks to months of work by a Weston councillor.
Weston General Hospital’s A&E has been closed overnight between 10pm and 8am in July 2017, owing to safety concerns, and bosses have not set a date on when it may re-open.
Among the chief concerns surrounding the closure were the difficulties for patients to travel back from Bristol to Weston if they are discharged in the early hours of the morning before public transport starts operating.
Weston town councillor Mike Lyall is a member of the Foundation Trust of the United Bristol Hospital Group and raised the issue with the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) before Christmas.
He said: “I read a letter in the Mercury by a resident who was discharged in the early hours of the morning and had to pay £60 to get home.
“I wondered if I went to the board meetings, I could ask if they could afford a room for people to wait in.
“It has taken some getting. I have not stopped working on it.”
Cllr Lyall said he travelled to Bristol a number of times to discuss the issue, but has now heard a solution has been found.
He said: “A secure waiting area is now routinely provided within the BRI for people who are not eligible for supported transport.
“It allows them to safely wait for public transport or a lift home.
“If you are a patient there, public transport is pretty good, but it is not available until 6am.
“I hope this means people do not have to panic about being discharged in the early hours of the morning.
“It is better than waiting outside in this weather, and it would only be for a few hours.”
A merger is being planned between Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT), which runs Weston’s hospital, and University Hospitals Bristol.
WAHT is the smallest trust in England, and its chief executive, James Rimmer, believes it is a sensible step to improve its long-term sustainability.
The trusts are expected to start working through a comprehensive appraisal process to assess the clinical and financial benefits of merging.
If the merger is eventually approved, it could be completed by spring 2019 at the earliest.