Somerset

Weston General A&E: Doctors bid to save department from closure

Save Weston campaigners
Image caption Save Weston campaigners at the health summit over the future of the A&E department

Doctors have presented a proposal to save their hospital's emergency department from being permanently closed overnight.

The A&E department at Weston General Hospital has been temporarily closed between 22:00 and 08:00 since July 2017.

The move came as a preventative measure due to a lack of staff.

Senior consultants want their alternative plan to be considered as part of an ongoing public consultation.

In January a permanent overnight closure became the preferred option of local NHS managers and senior clinicians.

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

But clinicians have argued the hospital can still provide that service at no extra cost.

Image caption Dr Parag Singhal says the consultants' proposal would not cost the NHS any more

Their proposal, showcased at a health summit on Saturday, would see a reduction in staffing but an increase in registrar doctors, so people who were unstable and needed emergency care did not need to be transferred.

Endocrinology consultant Dr Parag Singhal said: "We recognise a fully singing and dancing emergency department is not possible but we do want a system whereby patients can still get 24-hour emergency access.

"We would be utilising the same workforce but deploying them differently - it is a low-cost innovation."

Councillor Sarah Codling said she hoped the alternative proposal would be considered by the CCG.

She said: "People here are very concerned, particularly parents of young children. Accidents don't always happen from 9-5 or before 10pm.

"How can we not consider a proposal that has been worked on by the people who know best and who are delivering those services day in, day out?"

A CCG spokesman said: "We are keen to explore the consultants' proposal further.

"The consultants are joining another meeting very soon, alongside other senior clinicians from across the health system, where their proposals will be considered against our evaluation criteria.

"Ultimately, any final proposals put forward will need to be approved by the South West Clinical Senate - a group of independent expert clinicians - before they can be put to our governing body."

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