Sickness forced hospital maternity ward to close

PUBLISHED: 07:22 02 June 2013

Weston Hospital.

Weston Hospital.

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STAFF shortages forced Weston General Hospital to close its maternity ward overnight earlier this year, board papers have revealed.

Pregnant women faced being turned away from the Grange Road site after sickness to some staff meant the ward had to be closed, leaving expectant mothers facing a potential 90-minute round trip to Bristol.

Meanwhile the trust has rejected more than 75 per cent of applications from its 1,700 staff willing to resign, the Mercury has learned.

Earlier this month we reported that hospital bosses have been advertising for partners to take over parts of the trust’s structure.

It is looking for either a fellow NHS trust, a voluntary organisation or private partner to help secure its long-term future.

While the hospital is set to remain, the future of some services is in doubt and bosses last year denied rumours that the maternity department could be lost as part of the changes.

Regarding the overnight closure of the 10-bed maternity ward, a spokesman for Weston Area Health Trust said a lack of staff meant it was unable to accept any pregnant women about to go into labour.

She said the hospital had agreed to transfer any patients to St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol - a place many women choose to go to anyway. She added that during the temporary closure no expectant mothers arrived at the Grange Road site.

The trust also announced this week that 43 people have applied to leave.

The Mercury exclusively revealed in February that all 1,700 staff had been offered the chance to resign in a bid to save money.

Only 10 of those who applied under the Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) were accepted and a hospital spokesman confirmed no frontline staff have been lost.

The figure matches the numbers of staff cut in 2012 when MARS was also run.

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