Hospital A&E to cut Christmas opening hours

PUBLISHED: 11:06 23 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 23 December 2017

Weston General Hospital and A & E Department.

Weston General Hospital and A & E Department.

Archant

The struggling accident and emergency department at Weston General Hospital will close early on Christmas Day, health leaders have revealed.

The A&E has endured a tough year, with a damning CQC inspection branding it ‘unsafe’, leading hospital bosses to scale down its opening hours by implementing a ‘temporary’ night-time closure back in July.

Nearly six months on, however, and there is no sign that the department is ready to fully reopen as efforts to recruit new doctors to ensure a safe 24/7 service have yet to bear fruit.

At present, the hospital A&E continues to close between 10pm and 8am each day, leaving patients facing journeys to hospitals in Bristol or Taunton if they need help between those hours.

It has now been revealed that the department will close four hours earlier on Christmas Day, shutting its doors at 6pm and remaining closed until 8am on Boxing Day.

This does not affect those needing emergency help for life-threatening conditions, who should still dial 999 as usual.

The most seriously ill or injured patients in North Somerset, and children who require emergency care overnight, already go by ambulance straight to specialist centres in Bristol and Taunton and this will continue.

Dr Peter Collins, medical director at Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said: “As part of the temporary overnight closure, every day we look closely at our A&E to make sure we have safe levels of staffing in place and that our patients are cared for in a clinically safe environment.

“In order to operate a safe service over the Christmas period we have taken the decision to slightly revise our opening hours on Christmas Day evening – our quietest time.

“This ensures we have appropriate levels of staffing in place across the whole bank holiday period and any changes to our opening hours affects the smallest numbers of patients possible.

“Our opening hours remain the same – 8am-10pm – across the rest of the Christmas period, where A&E remains fully operational and 80 per cent of people use A&E.”

And Dr Peter Brindle, chair of the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Oversight Group and medical director for the area’s clinical commissioning groups, added: “This is a decision taken jointly by local clinicians and we are working closely together across the local health system to support Weston General Hospital A&E and ensure that patients in North Somerset continue to receive a safe and effective urgent and emergency care service.

“The decision to reduce the opening hours of an emergency department is never taken lightly. All parts of our health system considered every alternative, but ultimately concluded that an early, managed closure is the safest option for people living in the Weston area and in the wider region.”

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