Somerset

Weston General Hospital A&E closure plans concern consultants

Weston General Hospital Image copyright Barbers
Image caption Weston General Hospital's A&E department has been closed between 22:00 and 08:00 since July 2017

Hospital consultants have warned of a "significant risk" of destabilising the health service in the West of England if plans to close an A&E go ahead.

Weston General Hospital A&E department has been shut overnight for 18 months.

Closing it is one option being considered by the area's clinical commissioning group, which meets later.

The hospital's consultants' body has written a letter of concern and has put forward a solution it believes would save the emergency department.

It fears if acute services "collapse", other services could drop below a critical mass necessary for the full functioning of the hospital in Weston-super-Mare, on the Somerset coast.

Weston General's A&E has been closed between 22:00 and 08:00 since July 2017.

The hospital said it was because it could not guarantee safe levels of staffing overnight.

People with serious and life-threatening emergencies were told to dial 999 and ambulances would take them to Bristol or Taunton - about 20 and 28 miles away respectively.

"At this point specialists are unlikely to be able to maintain skills, trainees are unlikely to be sent to Weston and places for 175 acute medical patients will then need to be found in adjoining trusts," the consultants say.

Image copyright WGH

The letter, sent to Julia Ross, chief executive of the Clinical Commissioning Group for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, proposed the emergency department be re-opened overnight to ambulance arrivals.

These would be triaged on arrival by a senior department nurse who would point patients to the most appropriate treatment.

They said it meant patients would be seen in the most appropriate place and treatment could be started sooner than if they were transported to Bristol.

The consultants' proposal supported a reduction in emergency department staffing, but said an increase in Registrar doctors would be required.

The CCG said it have received the letter and wanted to have a meeting with the consultants.

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