Action plan agreed to retain trainee doctors at Weston General Hospital's A&E department
PUBLISHED: 15:55 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 14 October 2019
Trainee doctors will continue in their posts at Weston General Hospital's A&E, diminishing fears the department would be forced to close.
Health bosses said last week they would have 'no alternative but to shut A&E entirely'.
Trainees at Weston Area Health NHS Trust had raised concerns about the support and supervision available to them to provide safe care in the department, where the General Medical Council (GMC) conditions on training environments had been breached repeatedly over the past year.
Despite the hospital's efforts to address concerns around trainee supervision and adequate staffing levels, the GMC remained concerned the health system was unable to provide a sustainable plan to tackle underlying issues.
In September, the GMC wrote to the trust seeking a concrete action plan, and following representations submitted by Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) and health partners, the GMC has determined there is evidence of deliverable plans which should address concerns, with progress underway to bring about sustainable improvements.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group unanimously agreed on October 1 to make A&E's overnight closure, which has been temporarily in place since July 2017, permanent.
Dr Peter Collins, medical director at WAHT, told the Mercury: "Weston's A&E is a valuable learning environment for junior doctors and we are absolutely committed to ensuring they receive a consistently high quality training experience.
"We are pleased the GMC has recognised our commitment to achieving this, and the progress we have made to date.
"Working with health partners across the region, we will continue focusing our efforts on enhancing the training experience, and we're confident that we'll continue to deliver the improvements required."
The GMC and Health Education England, which places doctors in training posts, will continue to monitor conditions in the department.
If the action plan is not delivered or further concerns are found in the training environment, the GMC will re-assess and may need to reconsider further conditions on approval.
A CCG spokesman said: "We welcome the GMC's announcement. The ongoing challenges regarding the training and supervision of junior doctors at Weston General Hospital, and the possible impact of this on the provision of A&E at the hospital, have been a significant concern for the CCG and the wider local health and care system.
"We will continue to work with partners to monitor progress against the action plan and to implement our Healthy Weston proposals, which will ensure the Hospital is better able to provide consistently safe and high quality care for local people."