Trust 'in no position' to say when A&E will fully reopen as campaigners hold vigil
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 December 2017
Campaigners held a nighttime vigil at Weston General Hospital this week, marking five months since A&E closed overnight, with still no end date in sight.
Weston Area Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, closed the A&E between 10pm and 8am in July, citing safety concerns due to a lack of staff.
Campaigners fighting to save a 24/7 A&E service in Weston organised a vigil at the hospital on Monday, saying the closure is putting lives at risk.
Hospital bosses have consistently refused to put a time-scale on reopening plans, as the trust needs to recruit new staff to ensure it can operate safely.
It appeared earlier this week that progress was being made to re-open in March, but this was refuted by the hospital which described the time-frame as ‘optimistic’.
Wells MP James Heappey said on Monday he had met with the hospital’s chief executive, James Rimmer, and received assurances everything was progressing.
Mr Heappey said: “I am encouraged recruiting is progressing well and the hospital hopes to re-open the A&E at night in March.”
However, a hospital spokesman said in response: “While we appreciate Mr Heappey’s optimism, we can confirm as yet there is no anticipated date for re-opening the overnight service in our A&E.
“The ending of the temporary overnight closure is wholly reliant on our ability to recruit enough permanent A&E doctors and nurses to safely staff the department.
“Sadly we’re still not in a position to safely staff A&E overnight or to accurately forecast with confidence when that time will be.
“Good progress is being made with recruitment, but new doctors and nurses also require lengthy training and supervision until they are able to work independently.
“We have to be assured staffing levels are safe and very importantly they are sustainable.
“We could not be in a position where we lifted the temporary overnight closure but found ourselves back in a position of having inadequate and unsafe staffing a short time later.
“We will keep the public fully informed when any firm plans and decisions are made and, of course, Mercury readers will be among the first to know when they become public.”