Two thirds concerned by Weston General Hospital plans with decision on future of A&E due in October

The accident occured close to Weston General Hospital. Picture: Mark Atherton

The accident occured close to Weston General Hospital. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

Thousands of people have had their say on proposals to make the downgrade of Weston’s A&E department permanent – with 80 per cent of respondents ‘understanding things need to change’.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has proposed the 'temporary' overnight closure of Weston General Hospital's emergency service is permanently implemented as part of the Healthy Weston programme.

The A&E has been closed for more than two years, and despite health bosses insisting the closure would not last, proposals to scale back services will be decided on in October.

The CCG hopes to oversee a medically-led emergency department, which will open from 8am-10pm seven days a week - meaning patients arriving overnight have to travel to Bristol or Taunton.

More than 2,300 people took part in the consultation, which ran from February to June.

The survey found eight in 10 people understood the need for change, and the CCG reports most people were supportive of proposed changes to intensive care and emergency surgery.

But only three in 10 respondents supported the permanent overnight A&E closure, with the majority expressing concerns.

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Common questions about the future of health services which arose from the consultation included whether the proposals accounted for the size and age of North Somerset's population and whether there are enough resources for the proposals to work.

People also questioned if it was 'appropriate for patients and their loved ones to travel to another hospital overnight in an emergency'.

Dr Martin Jones, the CCG's medical director, said: "We have a much better understanding of what people think and what is most important to them.

"Our vision is for Weston General to be a dynamic hospital at the heart of the community - offering more of the services that local people need most often."

The CCG will make decisions on the recommendations of the Healthy Weston programme at its October meeting, where common themes from the survey will also be discussed.

The CCG's decision on the future model of the hospital must be ratified by the South West Clinical Senate before it goes ahead.