New NHS vision for 'healthy Weston' spells change for A&E and maternity services

PUBLISHED: 12:01 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:11 03 October 2017

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

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Maternity services at Weston General Hospital are at risk and A&E looks unlikely to re-open fully at night as a radical shake-up could mean a new 'care campus' at Grange Road.

NHS bosses have revealed a draft ‘vision document’ which could mean the Weston-super-Mare hospital is stripped of its maternity services, will no longer offer emergency operations and will lose its intensive care beds.


A&E and maternity services

The hospital’s A&E is closed overnight after being deemed ‘unsafe’, and the CCG has to pay premium payments to subsidise Weston’s emergency department.

Its vision document says it is ‘not sustainable’ and a ‘long-term solution’ must be identified.

Plans include the hospital running a full emergency service for just 14 hours a day while ‘alternative provision’ will be set up at night so some patients can still be admitted out of hours.

Despite reassurances earlier in the year from the hospital there was ‘no threat’ to the ward, it is now being targeted for changes.

Around 170 births take place at the hospital each year, but guidelines say 500 are needed for staff to maintain enough expertise.

The document says the service is ‘not chosen by enough women’ to be viable and ‘alternative options’ must be explored.

North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) programme director for the district’s sustainability board Colin Bradbury said no decisions have been made and people’s views will be taken into account while the CCG finds a solution to ‘meets the populations’ needs’.

Why is healthcare changing in North Somerset?

The Government has asked healthcare bosses nationwide to create sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have teamed up to do this.

If no changes are made, the three CCGs will spend £300million more than they receive in funding by 2021 and the STP is looking to stop this.

Weston General Hospital has been plagued with uncertainty for years and this spring the CCG asked people for their opinions on changes to its A&E, surgery and intensive care services.

The CCG says people it spoke to during eight weeks of public engagement wanted to focus on ‘healthcare as a whole’ including GP and community services.

This new vision document now looks at multiple aspects of healthcare and another 14-week public engagement is set to launch on October 18.

At the beginning of 2018 the CCG will start to make a firm plan, but a formal consultation period will then be required sometime after March before changes can be implemented.

New care at Weston

While some forms of treatment will move to other hospitals, some services now provided elsewhere could come back to Weston.

The CCG also hopes to make the hospital a ‘specialist centre’ for the treatment of frail and elderly people and elective surgery.

Under the changes the CCG wants to bring more cancer services to Weston.

Mr Bradbury said: “We have people who are having chemotherapy on a day-to-day basis having to go to Bristol and back… that could be done locally.”

One of the big improvements could be the care campus, and Mr Bradbury said GP services will be a ‘big part’ of it, offering planned and un-planned care.

He said patients will receive more care in one place, rather than having to explain their conditions multiple times.

He added: “There are lots of health inequalities in Weston and we think we can give a much better and more cohesive service.”

Weston General Hospital’s statement

The hospital’s chief executive James Rimmer said the vision is ‘the best way to secure a strong and vibrant future for the hospital.

He said staff and the public are ‘integral’ to shaping the vision, and added: “We’ll need their ideas and input to develop NHS services designed to best suit patients’ needs and which offer clinical sustainability and value for money.”

The hospital refused an interview with the Mercury.

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