Weston duo launch petition for 24/7 A&E at Weston General Hospital

A Weston duo has launched a petition campaigning for a 24/7 A&E department at Weston General Hospital.

University Centre Weston student, George Austin Bradley, and Jack Kimmins aim to collect 100,000 signatures for the petition to be considered for debate in Parliament by the town’s MP, John Penrose.

George, aged 22, was inspired to start the petition as his mother, who works at the hospital, had to travel to Bristol Royal Infirmary after her mother was taken seriously ill last year.

The petition has gained around 3,080 signatures so far, calling for Weston’s A&E department – which is currently open seven days a week, between 8am to 10pm – to open 24/7.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG) announced the previously temporary opening hours were to be made permanent on October 1 last year.

The BNSSG says the decision was supported by senior doctors across the region, alongside national regulators and the boards of both Weston Area Health NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which have been in place since July 2017.

However, a number of residents have reacted to the petition to say the service is ‘essential’ and ‘desperately needed’, and some said they have travelled 45 minutes to get to the nearest open A&E department.

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Others commented on the growing size of the town and went on to say it is an ‘extra strain’ on both the patients and the ambulance service which has to travel to Bristol to access emergency care overnight.

A spokesperson for the BNSSG said: “Proposals to improve safety and quality at Weston General Hospital were approved by the CCG last year, following extensive public consultation.

“They included making the temporary, overnight closure of A&E permanent, while at the same time expanding other key services for local people, including children.

“The changes – refined and supported by senior doctors from across the South West - mean that the hospital will be better able to achieve national clinical quality standards, as well as attract the staff it needs into the future.”

A spokesman from North Somerset Protect our NHS campaign group says on October 8, the initial one-year trial period of the revised services of Weston General’s A&E will be reviewed by the unitary authority Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel, which it welcomes.

A spokesman said: “The group is delighted to see Jack Kimmins’ new petition for the reinstatement of a 24/7 Type 1 A&E at Weston General Hospital. There have been several petitions over the years we have been campaigning, all of which have been ignored by NHS bosses and our MP, but it is great that this one is coming from Weston’s students and we urge all residents of North Somerset to add their signatures as a fully functioning A&E department is essential for our community.

“Other hospitals in our region have managed to hold on to their A&E departments often thanks to the support of the local MP. It is such a pity that our own MP, John Penrose, has joined the board of the 1828 Think Tank, an organisation that calls for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system and for Public Health England to be scrapped.

“We understand that on October 8, the initial one-year trial period of the revised and downgraded services of Weston General’s A&E will be reviewed by North Somerset Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel. We look forward to reading the minutes of this meeting to see if the council will stand-up for the citizens of our town and county and support Jack’s petition and our campaign.”

To sign the petition, log on to www.change.org/p/john-penrose-24-7-a-e-department-at-weston-general-hospital-100-000-signatures-needed?