New plans for care at Weston General Hospital revealed

Weston Hospital has been ordered to improve after a CQC report found staff shortages and a lack of l

The proposals will change services at Weston General Hospital - Credit: Archant

Patients taken to Weston General Hospital who need an extended stay for treatment will be transferred to a neighbouring hospital under new plans being considered.

The NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has outlined plans to change services at Weston General, which will be shared with councillors at a key meeting later this month.

The CCG says the proposals would change the way some services are delivered, so that more people can receive their hospital treatment locally each year, and the hospital can attract the staff it needs to thrive. 

Designed by senior doctors, nurses and other health professionals, the plans are part of a second phase of work started in 2019.

The CCG says thousands more planned procedures, including cataracts and hip and knee operations, could take place in Weston General Hospital every year under the proposals. 

The A&E would continue to run 14 hours a day, seven days a week – with additional specialist care provided so that more people could be treated and return home on the same day. 

Two onsite 'centres of excellence' would also be created for surgery and older people’s care.

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Two possible options for implementation are being put forward, with Option 2 favoured for progression:

Option 1: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken straight to a neighbouring hospital for their treatment.
Option 2: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken to Weston General Hospital, as they are today. If they required ongoing inpatient care they would be transferred to a neighbouring hospital for treatment.

Although a full evaluation of both options is still in progress, senior doctors and other health professionals are strongly in favour of Option 2, the CCG says, because it:

Enables more people of all ages to be treated locally.
Enables more emergency patients to be treated at Weston A&E.
Improves the availability of emergency ambulances due to reduced journey times.
Is more likely to attract and retain staff for the longer term.

A recent survey of almost 900 local people - including hospital staff – found 85% agree services at the hospital need to change, while 68% support the idea of transferring patients who require an unplanned inpatient stay to neighbouring hospitals. 

There was also widespread support (91%) for improvements to same day emergency care at A&E.

Dr Andrew Hollowood, medical director at Weston General, said: "This is a great opportunity to secure a bright and sustainable future for Weston General Hospital, and we are looking forward to discussing our proposals with local Councillors. 

"We want to be able to provide more of the services people need most often and are confident these proposals would help us secure that.

"As well as increasing the numbers of planned operations we could provide locally, preserving the 14/7 A&E service and improving same day emergency care is something we’ve had good public support for so far.

"Responding effectively to the health needs of the local population remains critical in this concluding phase of the work."

A meeting of the North Somerset Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel on April 20 will consider whether the proposed model of care and potential options require a formal public consultation. 

Even without the requirement for a public consultation, the NHS would conduct an extended period of public and staff engagement before any decisions or changes were made – with any implementation likely to take place in early 2023.