Weston A&E overnight closure confirmed with CCG warning emergency department may completely shut
PUBLISHED: 16:05 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 01 October 2019
Health bosses have agreed to shut Weston General Hospital’s A&E at night permanently – and warn the emergency department may be forced to close down altogether.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has agreed A&E will only be open to walk-in patients from 8am-10pm, as per the temporary overnight closure of the A&E, which has been in place since June 2017.
Last week it revealed it intended to push forward with the plans - despite significant concern over the idea - and the CCG was due to rubber-stamp the proposals this afternoon (Tuesday) at the Winter Gardens.
However, North Somerset Council's health overview and scrutiny panel (HOSP) recommended yesterday (Monday) a decision on the Healthy Weston proposals were delayed until the CCG provided 'further clarity on the system-wide strategy for urgent and emergency care and the long-term plan'.
It said a failure of the CCG to delay would see the council consider asking the Secretary of State for health to intervene as its November of January full council meetings.
Its move though failed to stop the CCG giving the green light to permanently close A&E at night this afternoon.
The CCG's chief executive Julia Ross said with Brexit a delay could be lengthy and cause problems with recruitment and creating a closer relationship between Bristol and Weston hospitals.
And CCG area director Colin Bradbury said the General Medical Council has concerns over the training of junior doctors and is 'actively considering' seeking their removal, which would affect the sustainability of even a daytime A&E in Weston.
The CCG says its proposals are the best way for ensuring safe patient care in Weston.
* A&E opening hours becoming 8am-10pm permanently.
* The A&E department being staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of hospital and primary care clinicians working together.
* The ability for medics to directly admit patients to Weston General Hospital wards at night, instead of going through A&E.
* Running the Seashore Centre for children seven days a week.
Weston Area Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, is due to merge with University Hospitals Bristol (UHB) next year.
UHB chief executive Robert Woolley said yesterday a failure to accept the Healthy Weston proposals may jeopardise that move to safeguard the hospital's future.
In a column to be published in Thursday's Mercury Weston MP John Penrose said A&E 'wasn't safe to open at night' and believes the CCG's current tweaked proposals 'make sense for a growing town'.
However, Save Weston A&E campaigners do not agree with the Conservative MP.
Protests against a night-time A&E closure took place outside the Winter Gardens this afternoon and also outside the Town Hall yesterday.
During the public consultation run by the CCG, 69 per cent of responders said they were against A&E's closure at night.
But the CCG governing body members agreed unanimously to proceed with the Healthy Weston plan, despite opposition from the council and protestors.
Ms Ross said: "This is the culmination of more than two years of work; Weston General Hospital has been under threat for a number of years.
"Weston remains significantly challenged, a delay to the programme would seriously put back the UHB merger to merge clinical teams and given the current political climate, Weston General Hospital will suffer further.
"Uncertainty with recruitment and retention will continue for a long period and there will be a significant impact of doing nothing.
"There could be some serious implications if this goes to the Secretary of State but given the scope and scale of the work done we should make our decision, then work with the HOSP carefully over the next 10 days."
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