Hospital doctors attack ideas to scale back A&E

Weston General Hospital and A & E Department.

Weston General Hospital and A & E Department. - Credit: Archant

Consultants working at Weston General Hospital have ‘serious concerns’ about proposals to change A&E.

Clinicians have written to NHS bosses warning proposals to downgrade emergency care represent a ‘gamble’ to the South West’s hospitals.

One hospital employee told the Mercury they believe a 24/7 department is essential for a growing town.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is leading the Healthy Weston reforms, is arranging a meeting with the medics.

A letter sent by the consultants’ body to the CCG shows concern over A&E is not limited to patients.

Ever since an overnight A&E closure was introduced in July 2017 there have been fears the service would be axed.

Last month the CCG issued five potential models for it – with only one offering around-the-clock emergency care, as offered before the closure.

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Instead a permanent overnight closure is an option, while it may be downgraded to just a GP-led emergency centre with more patients facing trips to Bristol or Taunton.

The hospital employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said colleagues feel emergency care needs to be offered 24/7.

The consultants’ letter to the CCG says: “We have serious concerns about the proposed models, bound to our duty of care to the local population.

“Many of the clinicians employed at the trust also live in the area and would expect to receive care from the local organisations themselves.

“The messaging (from the CCG) appears to imply the proposed models have been developed with and have the approval of Weston consultants, and we wish to state we are not in support of the models as they stand.”

The consultants go on to say they ‘explicitly cannot support a model that denudes access to quality emergency services at Weston General Hospital’ and ask openly whether the CCG has considered whether the regional health systems would be put at ‘risk of collapse’ if the proposals go through.

The CCG’s proposals are not confirmed and subject to public consultation.

Medical director Martin Jones said: “We continue to work with local health partners on a range of proposals and have responded positively to the letter from the hospital’s medical advisory committee and are arranging a meeting between the consultants and the Healthy Weston team as soon as possible to discuss.”