24-hour care at A&E ‘should not be a discussion but a reality’

Protesters outside Weston Hospital.

Protesters outside Weston Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs have been warned not to ‘betray’ Weston and cut access to emergency care in the town.

North Somerset’s councillors voiced their concerns for the future look of the hospital, saying they will support the battle to retain an A&E ‘right to the bitter end’.

The views expressed on Tuesday night come after the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) published ideas to change the way the hospital’s A&E is run last month.

It has issued five potential models to consider, with only one backing the 24/7 opening of the A&E – which stopped its overnight service in July 2017.

Councillor for Weston Central ward, Richard Nightingale, said: “The longer this overnight closure remains in place, the longer the effect on every Weston resident.

Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

“The 24-hour medical care should not be a discussion but a reality and anything less is a betrayal of local health care for residents.

“Essentially this is a clinical care issue which in my view should be resolved by clinicians, not political parties or solely by the CCG.”

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The CCG’s models would still see the majority of patients use Weston in an emergency, but more urgent operations could be moved to Taunton and Bristol under the proposals. They are subject to consultation.

Cllr Terry Porter, who covers Hutton and Locking, said his family have greatly benefitted from Weston’s emergency department in the past.

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

He said: “There is a great deal of public concern around this issue.

“My wife became ill recently and was in a critical condition, where she ended up going to Southmead in Bristol after being rushed into Weston hospital.

“I don’t know what would have happened if the hospital and its services weren’t there, and it needs more funding spent on it.”

Cllr Martin Williams, who covers Weston Milton, said: “A lot of people living in my area don’t want to see it downgraded, its services need to grow if nothing else.”

Cllr Reyna Knight, who covers Portishead North, added: “To downgrade the only hospital in the district is to downgrade the whole of North Somerset.”