Hospital consultants have this week warned of a “significant risk” of destabilising the health service in the West Country if plans to close Weston A&E go ahead.
Weston General Hospital A&E department – which is used by residents from across the Burnham-On-Sea area – has been shut overnight for 18 months.
Closing it is one option being considered by the area’s Clinical Commissioning Group, according to the BBC this week.
The hospital’s consultants’ body has written a letter of concern and has put forward a solution that it believes would save the emergency department.
It fears that if acute services “collapse”, other services could drop below a critical mass necessary for the full functioning of the hospital in Weston.
Weston General’s A&E has been closed between 10pm and 8am since July 2017 because the hospital says 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.
“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.
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 told the BBC that it have received the letter and wanted to have a meeting with the consultants.