Review of Weston A&E’s overnight closure to go ahead in April despite Covid disruption

PUBLISHED: 08:37 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:37 12 October 2020

A review of the A&E's overnight closure will take place in April.

A review of the A&E's overnight closure will take place in April.

Archant

A review of the overnight closure of Weston General Hospital’s A&E is set to go ahead in April despite calls for it to be delayed.

Clinical commissioning group bosses said they would give it a year before assessing if the closure, part of the Healthy Weston programme, was ‘delivering the improvements we wanted’.

North Somerset area director Colin Bradbury said the Covid-19 pandemic had been ‘extremely disruptive’ and the review may need to be delayed.

But councillors and campaigners said they should stick to the original timetable and called for more regular updates on the hospital’s performance.

In a written statement to North Somerset Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel on October 8, Save Weston A&E’s Helen Thornton said ‘given that many of the themes (of Healthy Weston) have been completed, including the permanent overnight closure of Weston A&E, we would urge councillors to stick to the timetable and get the figures on recruitment and the impact of the closure on nearby hospitals’.

CCG bosses said the Healthy Weston proposals were essential to ensure patient safety and attract doctors and nurses to work at Weston Hospital.

It has been blighted by uncertainty since a damning Care Quality Commission report brought about the overnight closure of the A&E in July 2017. It shuts between 10pm and 8am each night.

Julia Ross, chief executive of the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, told councillors in October 2019 the offer of a review was ‘genuine, not cynical’.

She added: “If, after the merger and growth in the town there’s a rationale for reopening the A&E 24/7, we will consider it.”

Colin Bradbury told councillors this week: “We’ve made progress recruiting to the emergency department and primary care. We will continue to monitor staffing levels.

“The Healthy Weston consultation was unusual. Normally you project different proposals but the A&E first closed on a temporary basis in 2017. When the business case was submitted we already had two years of data on the closure.

“There was the analysis of 100 patients who were diverted overnight. There was no evidence of harm. That gave us assurance it was safe and sustainable.

“The impact on other hospitals was also well understood. There was support from all the local hospitals, GPs and other providers of care.

“There’s an issue with the April 2021 review date and the panel may want to consider a change to that timescale.

“Due to Covid-19 there have been a number of changes that we haven’t been able to enact.

“There’s a balance to be struck as to when one would want a formal review. You’d expect to have a year’s data.

“The Covid pandemic has been extremely disruptive to elements of the business case.”

He said Weston General had previously struggled to recruit due to its size but the merger with University Hospital Bristol in April had helped attract new candidates.

Councillor Mike Bell, the executive member for health, said the panel should still push for the April review date, even if some of the information was missing, and called for real-time updates on the hospital.

Mr Bradbury replied: “There is no resistance on my part.”


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