Health Minister Philip Dunne visits Weston General Hospital alongside town's MP John Penrose

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:31 08 September 2017

Health Minister Philip Dunne and MP John Penrose met with staff at Weston General Hospital.

Health Minister Philip Dunne and MP John Penrose met with staff at Weston General Hospital.

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Health Minister Philip Dunne paid Weston General Hospital a visit yesterday (Thursday) to speak about its A&E.

The Weston-super-Mare hospital’s A&E has been closed at night for two months.

It closed after inspectors decided the hospital’s urgent and emergency care services were not safe.

It has become clear this is due to low staffing levels.

MORE: A&E doctors hired from overseas.

Health Minister Philip Dunne with hospital chief executive James Rimmer and Weston MP John Penrose.Health Minister Philip Dunne with hospital chief executive James Rimmer and Weston MP John Penrose.

Weston MP John Penrose met with the minister at the hospital, along with staff, to discuss the issues they are facing.

He said: “This is the second visit by a Health Minister in just 6 weeks. I’ve been in constant contact with them, as well as with local health chiefs and budget holders too, about the problems staff and management are grappling with, so I’m pleased it’s clearly on their radar.

“We need safe, sustainable plans for the long-term future of the hospital as a whole. But, first of all, we’ve got to get the A&E re-opened at night as soon as possible.

“Everyone wants progress on the A&E to move faster, which was the point I made to the minister today, and will continue to make to everyone who will listen.”

MORE: Why did Weston General’s A&E close overnight?

Despite recruiting additional doctors, staffing levels are still lower than it needs and there is still no target date for A&E to re-open.

Mr Dunne said: “I have been speaking with John regularly about Weston Hospital and its A&E. It was good to see for myself the efforts local staff members are making to make the current situation work.

“Ensuring the availability of safe A&E services is vitally important for a growing town like Weston and that’s why I’m here – to check on progress and listen to the views of staff.”

MORE: Candlelit vigil and protests held in bid to get A&e re-opened.

James Rimmer chief executive Weston Area Health NHS Trust said: “We were delighted to welcome the Health Minister to the Trust.

“He met with our maternity team and had a tour of the unit and also visited A&E to ask staff about the impact on them of the overnight closure and the pressures of the upcoming winter.

“Later on he held a round table event where he spoke to a diverse representation of staff who shared their successes and passion for patient care alongside some of the challenges we face in the NHS.

“As always when we have visitors, he went away with a great impression of our staff, volunteers and our services at Weston.”

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