Council decides not to ask Government to intervene on A&E overnight closure

PUBLISHED: 12:17 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:08 15 October 2019

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

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

Archant

The Government will not be asked by North Somerset Council to intervene on the closure of Weston General Hospital's A&E in the immediate future after health bosses promised to review changes in 2021.

Weston General Hospital and A & E Department.Weston General Hospital and A & E Department.

The council's health panel (HOSP) on September 30 called for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to delay making a raft 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 the council's panel this morning (Tuesday) withdrew its threat from last month about seeking all councillors' support in referring the matter to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, immediately.

The U-turn came after the CCG promised to review its Healthy Weston changes once they have been in place for a year. They will be fully adopted by April 2020.

MORE: A&E will not shut completely as GMC threat to remove junior doctors withdrawn.

Save Weston A&E campaigners said ahead of the meeting it was the last chance to protect a 24-hour A&E department.

The CCG says emergency surgery will still be provided every day, for 12 hours, and an increased number of patients will be admitted to hospital wards at night, bypassing the traditional route through A&E.

However, protestors do not believe the changes are in the public's interest, accusing the CCG of justifying its plans through a serious of 'mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations'.

Steve Timmins told councillors this morning: "The CCG claims the ambulance service's managers are happy with the changes, but we know from conversations and confidential communications that ambulance drivers and paramedics are not, that the service is under even greater pressure.

"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."

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

She also reassured concerned members the permanent overnight closure is not the first steps in downgrading the hospital and confirmed Weston 'would not become a cottage hospital'.

MORE: CCG rules out selling Weston General Hospital.

She said: "We need to bring clarity to people locally, we have marched the people of Weston hospital up the hills so many times.

"This will enable us to try to work and implement the merger with University Hospitals Bristol."

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