Letters to the Editor, June 20, 2013


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Patients first

RE WESTON General Hospital: There has been enough speculation and refuting of claims, time to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

I am one of those “qualified, skilled and experienced staff”, but there is only so much one person can do. I am frankly surprised that it has taken this long for the CQC to intervene and quite rightly, they need to do so. My responsibility in my role is naturally to put my patients first, I am after all employed to do this and am more than capable of doing so.

I love my job and have many years of unblemished service. However it is too easy for the ‘organisation’ to absolve themselves of their responsibility to our patients and their staff.

A consistent pattern of under-staffing, switching care models, moving of departments, opening extra capacity beds with no strategy for safety, amalgamating staff groups, changing working shift patterns, altering hours, covering shortfalls in staffing levels with agency nurses, replacing trained nurses with nursing auxiliaries as an acceptable ‘pair of hands’, not consulting staff on the ground of any changes in services, putting less dynamic individuals in more complex areas, knowingly leaving areas short of monitoring equipment, lessening air working space with doors that swing and slide until they break or are too inconvenient to keep in use and now, to top it all, we are having Spanish nurses. A recruitment drive tried and tested to failure point in previous years. Great, now I have to be an English teacher too.

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Of course standards will drop when you take into account all of the above facts. I work among dedicated, caring, accommodating, capable, experienced teams of staff that work very hard for their patients but who are also worn out, frustrated and over-stretched. Our patients and colleagues recognise this in all of us but we are all trying very hard just to keep going.

Our organisation management is embedded in a culture of knee jerk strategies, keeping up appearances and all too easily blaming the staff on the ground therefore denying their role in the mess we have been in for several years. I welcome the CQC’s help to help us to do our jobs with efficiency in our busy district hospital.

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I close by asking anyone who reads this to please not assume this is a moan. These are facts, all year round (ie nothing to do with ‘winter pressures’), long-standing facts that affect our abilities to do our jobs.


None stayed

I READ the article ‘More nurses required for Weston General Hospital’ with interest and feel it is important that there is a clear understanding of who is to be recruited.

The hospital nurse bank has more than 100 non registered nurses (these are known by various titles such as heath care assistants but used to be referred to as nursing auxiliaries).

Weston is suffering a shortage of registered nurses. I understand that in an effort to comply with CQC requirements it has been using agency registered nurses from London and in addition to paying for their actual hours worked it has been paying their local bed and breakfast fees.

Several senior nurses have recently returned from Europe trying to recruit registered nurses.

This same action was undertaken almost 10 years ago, many registered nurses were recruited from Spain, none stayed in Weston. Weston hospital appears to have a problem retaining registered nurses. It is not for me to speculate why this is, but the evidence seems to suggest this is part of the long term problem.

Finally, the reporting of A & E not being able to transfer patients into beds is another old chestnut, exacerbated by Weston General over several years repeatedly downsizing its bed capacity. This was ostensibly originally undertaken in response to changing medical practice requiring less recovery time in hospital.

Having worked there for a long time I can report that it is a constant battle to create beds, often culminating in patients being moved repeatedly within the hospital. This poor continuity is hardly conducive to high standards of care.

There were more than 300 beds at one time, it would be interesting to know how many actual routine beds there currently are there. It is certainly significantly less than this.

The current practice of ‘putting up extra beds’ (sometimes with no emergency equipment or call bells) then taking them down again is almost as common as its practice of opening and closing ward areas temporarily, neither of which is any sort of long-term solution.

Most of the nursing staff working there, registered and non-registered are exhausted and utterly demoralised but still endeavour to deliver superb standards of care. Many go home in tears frustrated because they know they cannot deliver the care they aspire too. Hopefully this latest recruitment drive might alleviate this pressure the current nursing staff are working under.

I am a concerned registered nurse.



I WAS saddened by the recent CQC report on Weston General Hospital. I am glad they are resolving these issues.

I have only praise for Weston hospital. I went to the hospital with a broken arm in April. At its fracture unit it was observed that the bones were crumbling and an operation was necessary. Had the doctor not spotted the need for an operation I would have been left with a deformed left hand with consequences for my life. I shall ever be grateful to Weston hospital for operating on and saving the use of my hand.

In my visits to the hospital – receptions, fracture unit, X-rays, osteoporosis unit, a stay in Steep Holme Ward – all were kind and helpful. The operation surgeons, the nurses and cleaners, all treated me and my wife with great kindness, politeness and helpfulness.

It was my first time in hospital since 1949 and I didn’t know what to think but all the staff were more than helpful and treated me with dignity and support. They were very attentive even spreading butter on my toast.

It was my first operation and beforehand all was explained to me gently and carefully. My wife and I are very appreciative of all that was done for us. Everybody we met took time off working hard to help and care for us. I was very comfortable all the time.

I never observed any of the sad incidents reported in the CQC report but felt I would like to set the balance straight. I would recommend Weston hospital after my treatment there.

Without Weston hospital I would have had to travel a long way.


Moorland Street, Axbridge

Excellent care

I JUST wanted to write about the excellent care l received at Weston General Hospital following an accident at my local park.

An ambulance arrived in under 10 minutes. I was assessed, X-rayed, scanned and had a temporary plaster within a couple of hours.

A bed was found for me, and the care I received until my transfer to the BRI for reconstructive surgery was excellent.

I was particularly impressed with the care and dedication shown to several very confused, elderly patients.

After hearing such negative press lately, I felt compelled to show another side.


Worlebury Hill Road, Weston


I RECENTLY spent a few weeks as a patient on Steep Holm Ward at Weston General Hospital.

Contrary to the recent adverse publicity, I have nothing but praise for the care I received, and there was certainly no lack of respect for privacy and dignity.

Thank you Weston General Hospital.


Rockingham Grove, Weston


YOUR correspondent, who queries the cost of the helicopter which brought the Princess Royal to Weston, should be aware of the old proverb, which says that it is of no use to know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing


Ringwood Grove, Weston


WITH two years to go to the next General Election I’m throwing my hat into the ring and will be standing as a candidate.

I am considering calling my political party the ‘Might as well elect a parrot’ party which may not win me any serious votes but would be a more honest representation of the state of politics in the UK.

It’s a futile gesture, of course, and will cost me my deposit but having stood as a candidate for Weston in 2005 I can tell you it’s good for the soul and worth every penny. The only other realistic protest option is to not vote.

The honeymoon is now over for the coalition. They have two years left in which to get a grip with the political system but as three years have passed without any apparent effort to do so enough is enough. I have no idea whether their policies are right or not but it is clear to me that they have no control over the civil servants. That in itself is a massive failure as unelected people are running the show and dictating to the elected. Some of these civil servants are a menace as I discovered to my cost 15 years ago when I lost a perfectly good business.

It is three years since my friend Tessa Munt became the member for Wells. I’ve had three years of drivel from Tessa, all of it clearly coming from a civil servant’s mouth. Civil servants who think the truth is what he or she wants it to be. It seems the ability to hold two contradictory opinions at the same time is no obstacle.

Before Tessa, I’ve had David Heathcoat-Amory, John Penrose and Brian Cotter as MPs. None of them were any better. The less said about New Labour the better as they were more than just pointless. All MPs can do is relay to their constituents what a faceless civil servant in Whitehall wants them to relay. If they want the moon to be made of cheese then the moon will be made of cheese.

I challenge any one of these MPs to say they did get a proper explanation in which case they may like to tell me why they never passed it on to me. If they accept they didn’t then perhaps they can explain why not, after all they are all meant to work for us, including the civil servants.

As we begin the run down to the next election why don’t we just recognise politics for what it has become? To become a MP you have to tell people why you are the solution, but once elected you just become part of the problem.

How much your MP cares about you varies from MP to MP. The fact is that the faceless civil servants in Whitehall don’t care about you and me and there appears to be nothing our elected representatives can do about it.


Orchard Close, East Brent

Far from clear

AS A member of the public, who also thinks that they are firmly against cruelty to animals, I should like to reply to the letters from Liz Edwards and David Edwards.

I consider that Dean Harris understands the situation only too well in spite of the misleading impression the letter writers appear to have gained.

The evidence for the badger cull is far from clear. The authors of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, commissioned by the then Government, was the largest experiment on bovine TB ever conducted and killed 11,000 badgers over 10 years up to 2007.

The authors concluded that a cull would make no meaningful contribution to the control of bovine TB because of the spread of the disease when badger populations are disturbed.

The costs of implementing a cull also outweigh the economic benefits of any reduction in bovine TB.

Liz Edwards and David Edwards’ letters completely ignore the issue of cattle-to-cattle transmission. It is untrue to say that no country in the world has been able to beat bovine TB without dealing with the issue in wildlife (ie culling).

In fact Britain was the first country to conduct an intensive cattle-based TB eradication programme, without killing badgers, in the 1950s and 1960s.

This had practically eradicated bovine TB by 1970. The situation remained the same for 20 years which could not have happened if badgers were continually re-infecting cattle. After 1990 the cattle industry lobbied for the repeal of the effective cattle control measures that had been in place.

The subsequent increase in the incidence of bovine TB was worsened by the introduction of untested replacement cows into herds affected by the BSE crisis.

This cull will reduce the increase in the incidence of TB in cattle by only a maximum of 12-16 per cent after 10 years which does not suggest that the majority of farmers will be protected from the distress of having a large number of their cattle testing positive for bovine TB. This is despite a badger cull programme that will result in between 70,000 and upwards of 100,000 badgers being shot over the first four years.

In 10 years’ time an effective EU-approved cattle vaccine could be ready, together with the proven injectable badger vaccines already in use and oral badger vaccines. Instead of concentrating their ire on the badgers, cattle farmers might be better advised to lobby for a cattle vaccine and compulsory (simple) farm bio-security measures, alongside taking up offers of the vaccination of badgers on their land.

I shall make no comment regarding the ’ruthlessness’ of the badger other than quoting Hugh Warwick of the Hedgehog Preservation Society. Habitat loss and intensive farming are more likely to be the reason for the fall in hedgehog numbers. Badgers and hedgehogs have lived together quite happily for a very long time. Intensive farming tries to simplify these things and ecology isn’t simple.


Ashbury Drive, Weston


MANY writers to The Mercury have mentioned the low take-up of spaces in a number of residential streets.

This is exceptionally annoying to residents who cannot understand why spaces were not made available in such streets for residential use in the first place.

Any fair and coherent scheme would have made provision for residents right from the start. Having to wait for a much delayed review is irrelevant. The petition lodged with the council suggested a fair way to implement such a scheme and at minimum cost to the council and with increased income flowing in. Wake up North Somerset we need action now.


Palmer Row, Weston


I MYSELF do not go into Weston shopping anymore and by the look of the meagre amount the council are getting from the parking meters a lot of other people are doing the same.

And the council’s reason for putting in more meters is that it is listening to house owners. It certainly didn’t listen to houseowners when they put parking meters outside their homes in all the side streets in the centre of Weston. Surely it must devalue any property if you have to pay to park outside of it.


Chestnut Close, Congresbury

New thinking

I WRITE in regard to the mess that is the new thinking of the junction 21.

Would it not have been easier for the Worle entrance onto the dual carriageway to be made into a short bus lane from the turning into St Georges to the bridge over the carriageway thus making all the traffic move onto the dual carriageway at the Morrisons roundabout?

And the inside lane made into a lane that only goes onto the M5 northbound and all traffic trying to enter for the A370 south forced round the Morrisons’ roundabout also making the Hewish turning onto the A370 only allowed to turn left and not right for those trying to cheat the waiting times.

The bus lane on the A370 south is a nightmare. People have no idea that it can be used as a normal lane at certain times. I have had no end of problems with people swearing and trying to force their way in - make it 24 hours or there is going to be a bad accident one day.

I also think the new system they are trying to work in the Winterstoke trading area is a waste of time. Traffic works fine there, there is no need to make it two-way, just a waste of money.

In regard to parking in the town, as the new shopping area looks like it’s not going to happen why not make it an-all day car park and have a market on Wednesdays and

Saturdays to bring in trade?

I also think the eyesore of the Tropicana should be knocked down and sanded over. It brings down the tone of the seafront. Also the old pier should be made a community pier and look something like the one Southwold pier, which is amazing.

What do other people think?


Madam Lane, Worle

Mandy Miller

IN 1957 we went to see a film called Mandy. The lady who played the part was Mandy Miller (and also sang the song Nellie the Elephant).

She was born in Weston on July 23, 1944 – known as Carmen Isabella Hibbarde. She married Christopher Davey in 1965.

We would love to know if anyone knows any more such as if she has relatives, etc.

It was a remarkable film.


Alma Street, Weston


MY SISTER and I travelled to Bristol on the X1 last week and were most disconcerted to find that the seats are now of solid plastic with no upholstery whatever.

I accept that this is probably more hygienic and cheaper for cleaning purposes but, at the same time, any savings made are at the cost of travellers’ comfort and also health. We slid forward and backward and, at times, almost off our seats with every movement of the bus, and the lack of cushioning upholstery was very painful on my lumbar spine - I felt every jerk and jolt.

Is this progress? I think not.

Next time we go to Bristol it will be on the train.


Stanley Road, Weston

Thank you

I WOULD like to thank the police officers who stopped to help me when I fell on the pavement near Tesco on Thursday afternoon.

They were kindness itself and went out of their way to make sure I was taken to hospital and patched up. They made my day.


Station Road, Worle

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