Reopening A&E 24/7 in Weston ‘not feasible’ – CCG

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Weston General hospital’s A&E cannot be reopened 24 hours a day, health bosses have concluded, almost two years to the day since its overnight closure was first introduced.

Ever since July 2017 nobody has been able to walk in at Weston's A&E due to staff shortages.

But while bosses labelled it as a 'temporary' measure back then which could be remedied through recruitment, Bristol, north Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG's) efforts have concentrated on making it permanent more recently.

Public consultation on the CCG's Healthy Weston vision - of which daytime A&E services is a part of - is ongoing and ends next week.

A group of consultants lobbied for a return to an around-the-clock emergency department, which the CCG has assessed.

A CCG report says: "It was unanimously agreed (including by the doctors that had worked up the alternative model) the proposal to return to a 'traditional' 24/7 A&E was not feasible."

The main reason cited for this was that patient safety could not be guaranteed, especially for children.

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Rebecca Dunn, director for the Healthy Weston consultation programme, explained new national standards for children's urgent care had been published since the overnight closure of the A&E in July 2017.

Speaking at a CCG meeting on Tuesday, she said: "These require a higher level of staffing than is available in Weston."

However, Ms Dunn said the Weston consultants had come up with some ideas which would 'absolutely enhance' the proposals out for consultation.

These included integrating the A&E 'front-door team' with a team of specialists within the hospital.

She said the CCG would continue to work with the consultants to develop those ideas for incorporation into the final model, adding: "I think the consultants involved at Weston were disappointed in the outcome because they had spent quite a bit of time developing that model.

"But they have got some good ideas that enhance the proposals and we absolutely want to grab hold of those."

The final model for urgent and emergency care in Weston will also take into account feedback from the public.

The model out for consultation includes keeping the A&E closed from 10pm to 8am each night, a strengthened out-of-hours GP service and more direct admissions onto hospital wards overnight via GP referral.

The most serious emergency cases - such as head injuries and heart attacks - would continue to be transferred to specialist centres at neighbouring hospitals in Bristol and Taunton as has always been the case.

The CCG expects to receive an independent report on the findings of the consultation on July 12, and to make a final decision on Weston General Hospital services on October 1.