Poll Of The Week: Will Weston General Hospital's A&E re-open at night?
PUBLISHED: 11:49 07 July 2017
Weston General Hospital's A&E is now closed overnight, but despite a public outcry prompting promises it will re-open, bosses are unable to confirm when the temporary closure will end - do YOU think it will re-open?
Today we are launching our new Friday feature: Poll Of The Week.
We want to get your views on some of the biggest talking points in Weston-super-Mare each week, this week that is the town’s A&E department.
From 10pm to 8am, Weston now has no A&E service. Patients are instead greeted with telephones at the department’s doors which can be used to call 999 or 111 and ambulances will take people to Bristol and Taunton hospitals.
Speaking after the first overnight closure, the hospital’s medical director Peter Collins said: “I’m pleased to say the whole healthcare system has coped well with the impact of the closure overnight and all patients have been given safe and appropriate care.”
Why has the A&E closed overnight?
A damning inspection report from the Care Quality Commission found the A&E department was not safe and so its bosses made the decision to temporarily close it overnight.
The main issue for the department is its inability to recruit specialist doctors, 50 per cent of its consultant positions are vacant and just 29 per cent of posts for middle-grade doctors are filled. This means it has a heavy reliance on expensive locum doctors.
The hospital’s chief executive James Rimmer told the public the problem has ‘got worse not better’ at a board meeting on Tuesday, and Mr Collins added: “In the past we have been able to recruit long-term locums who have got used to our department and our care. What we have seen more recently is a shift to much more short-term locum doctors.”
Mr Collins also gave assurance the department is safe during the day, and said: “The people in our emergency department are providing safe care when they are there. The problem is, we don’t have enough staff to be able to guarantee that we can provide a safe service 24 hours a day.”
But – despite the fact the temporary closure is costing the hospital money – Mr Collins admitted he did not have a date for when A&E will re-open, and said: “What I am committed to, and what I understand, is the process of how we are going to get back to providing services overnight.”
What happens if I need to go to A&E at night?
Every night, around 27 people attend Weston’s A&E. Of those, 12 would normally arrive by ambulance – these people will automatically be taken to A&Es in Bristol or Taunton. Some of these patients will later be transferred back to Weston for further care.
Other patients are being advised to dial 111 or 999 for help.
Weston’s A&E will be closed from 10pm, but doctors will work until 2am to cope with any backlog of patients. Nurses will be in the department through the night to look after patients who may not be able to be admitted to a ward.
The hospital has increased the size of its security team and people will be monitoring CCTV outside of the A&E department each night, to ensure anyone who arrives at A&E while it is shut, but needs attention, can be identified.
The hospital’s resuscitation team, who deal with crash calls on its wards, are able to be called should they be required.