Councillors decide against referring Weston A&E case to Government for review

Save Weston A&E protest outside Weston Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Save Weston A&E protest outside Weston Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

The ‘last chance’ to protect a 24-hour A&E department at Weston General Hospital has passed after councillors decided not to immediately refer the case to the Government.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), for the first time, offered to review how the Healthy Weston programme is working after 12 months from when it is fully implemented in April 2020, which was unanimously supported by members of the council's health overview and scrutiny panel (HOSP) on Tuesday.

The review, scheduled for April 2021, will look at the potential to reopen A&E overnight following the completion of the proposed merger between Weston Area Health Trust and the University Hospitals Bristol Trust.

A&E will still be provided at the hospital from 10pm-8am, seven days per week, as has been the case 'temporarily' since July 4, 2017.

CCG chief executive Julia Ross confirmed it would look at the prospect of reopening the A&E overnight, if it deemed it necessary post review.

Campaign group Save Weston A&E said it was the 'last chance' to protect a 24-hour emergency department.

The group believes the council was 'manipulated by the CCG' and doubts even with a review in 12 months time, the CCG will agree to reopen A&E 24/7 again.

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Group member Steve Timmins addressed HOSP before it voted on whether to seek Government intervention.

He said: "If a patient doesn't recover fully or even dies because our A&E has been closed it is the medical staff who will feel guilt - however hard they may have fought to save that person's life.

"If a patient doesn't recover fully or even dies it is the family and friends who will suffer or who will feel the awful loss.

"And if someone doesn't recover fully or even dies because our A&E has been closed then it will be all of us, you the HOSP, us the campaigners, all of us who should feel the guilt. It will be our shame.

"If you can live with that then let them get on with closing our A&E."

At its previous meeting on September 30, HOSP called on the CCG to delay making a number of changes to Weston's health system, of which A&E opening hours were a major focus.

But it failed to persuade the CCG to halt confirming the changes on October 1 and members performed a U-turn on referring the matter to the Government.

A CCG spokesman said: "The Healthy Weston plans are supported by senior doctors across the region and assured by our national regulators and will ensure the hospital is better able to provide consistently safe and high quality care for local people.

"We look forward to working with the hospital and partners across our health and care system to implement the plans and an agreed process for a full review after 12 months."