A&E doctors hired from overseas but still no target date set for its re-opening

Weston General Hospital's A&E department.

Weston General Hospital's A&E department. - Credit: Archant

Weston General Hospital has made progress recruiting the doctors it needs to re-open A&E overnight but its staffing levels remain below what it requires.

The Weston-super-Mare hospital’s A&E has been closed at night for two months.

MORE: Why did Weston General Hospital’s A&E close at night.

It closed after inspectors determined the hospital’s urgent and emergency care services were not safe, due to low staffing levels.

The department requires eight consultants and nine middle-grade doctors to run safely. When it closed overnight, only 56 per cent of doctor posts were filled and the hospital’s medical director Peter Collins says A&E will not re-open until it hits 80 per cent.

Weston General Hospital in Grange Road, Weston-super-Mare.

Weston General Hospital in Grange Road, Weston-super-Mare. - Credit: Archant

At a public briefing on Tuesday, Dr Collins said: “We have had some recruitment success and have made four job offers to doctors from overseas.”

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The doctors, which the Mercury understands are from India, are due to start work at the hospital before Christmas. It has also recruited an A&E consultant, who is in post, although this has been offset by the departure of another consultant.

The meeting saw concerns raised about more staff leaving, and Dr Collins said: “It would be wrong for me to stand here and say there is not a morale issue.

MORE: Candlelit vigil and protests held in bid to get Weston General Hospital’s A&E re-opened.

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“Some people are anxious about the future of emergency and urgent care services in Weston. But I have seen a change from a few months ago, in that staff are more embracing about change.”

The meeting also saw calls for a target date to be set to fully reopen the department.

Hospital chief executive James Rimmer said a target would make for a ‘greater challenge’ but added: “We need to do more and we need to put some kind of time on it. We need to think about how we can give greater confidence.”

The hospital is planning for a future which could see a new A&E model offering scaled-back emergency services at night.

Some hospitals in Wales run A&Es at night without emergency doctors, and Weston General has secured funding to train and hire staff to make this possible, including pharmacists, GPs and senior nurses.

It is also looking at how it can admit patients – such as those with fractured hips, or infections – without them going through A&E, meaning they would not be diverted elsewhere even during the temporary closure.

MORE: Weston A&E closure: What is really happening behind the scenes?

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