held as Weston General's A&E department closes overnight
protest has been held outside Weston General Hospital as its A&E
department started closing overnight from Tuesday (July 4th) because
it cannot be staffed safely.
hospital, which serves more than 200,000 people in Weston-super-Mare,
Burnham-On-Sea and the surrounding area, is now shut between 10pm
and 8am each day.
with serious and life-threatening emergencies are being told to
dial 999 and ambulances will take them to Bristol or Taunton.
Trust said the the temporary move was necessary until it can guarantee
safe levels of staffing overnight.
comes after a health watchdog rated its emergency care as "inadequate".
Care Quality Commission (CQC) report warned "significant improvements"
must be made.
director Dr Peter Collins described the move as "a very difficult
decision" but added "it is our ability to recruit that
is our challenge, not our ability to care".
the public sector workers' union Unison warned every night the department
is closed "is a risk to the people of Weston".
Cook, of Unison, said the nearest alternatives were in Bristol or
Taunton - some 27 miles away - would leave "sick people a long
way from help and putting more strain on health staff at other hospitals".
concerned that behind the lack of answers from the trust is a government
plan to further downgrade Weston Hospital."
similar closure in Lincolnshire has been extended to over a year.
If that happens here, related departments like the intensive care
unit will be affected too."
MP James Heappey, right, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "Whilst it
is pleasing to see the work of so many staff at Weston Hospital
recognised in the many improvements identified by the Care Quality
Commission, it is hugely concerning that the A&E must close
overnight until more sustainable levels of staffing can be achieved."
"Local health chiefs have reassured me that A&E admissions
at Weston from residents in Somerset - as opposed to North Somerset
- average around four per night and that this can easily be covered
by Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. I also understand that serious
cases that require an ambulance are already mostly directed to the
larger hospitals in Bristol or Taunton."
"Nonetheless, Weston Hospital is popular with those of us who
live in the north western corner of Somerset and so the A&E
must re-open as soon as possible. I will be supporting Weston's
MP, John Penrose, in raising the ongoing challenge we face in clinician
recruitment for Somerset's NHS with Ministers. It is frustrating
that yet again, we have the cash but cannot recruit the staff to
spend it on."