The temporary closure of Weston General Hospital has left staff “worried and confused”, a trade union has said.
On Monday, the hospital – which is used by people across the Burnham-On-Sea area – stopped accepting new patients due to a high number of Coronavirus cases.
Unison representative Liz French said: “They’re confused, they’re worried but I have to say they are pulling together to do their best for their patients and all their colleagues.”
The hospital said new patients would be accepted “as soon as possible”.
“It’s not just the patients that have been diagnosed with Covid-19 but also lots of the staff because they’ve done lots of testing over the past week or so,” Ms French added. “They were unhappy but they were getting on with their jobs.”
She said staff felt there was a lack of communication from bosses. “Although the senior management team were meeting every couple of days to discuss the way forward but that wasn’t getting down to the staff. That was the biggest problem and that’s why they were so worried,” she said.
Dr William Oldfield, medical director at the trust, said there was a “high number” of patients with coronavirus in the hospital, adding that there was also “an emerging picture of asymptomatic staff” testing positive for the virus. “Any members of staff who have tested positive have self-isolated in line with national guidance,” he added.
Hospital aims to ‘re-open as soon as possible’
Actions are continuing to be taken at Weston General Hospital with the aim of re-opening the A&E department and accepting new patients as soon as possible.
The hospital temporarily stopped accepting new patients, including into its A&E department, from 8am on Monday. This was a clinically-led decision as a precautionary measure to maintain the safety of staff and patients.
Dr William Oldfield, medical director at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said on Tuesday: “The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff continues to be our top priority.”
“There are currently a high number of patients with coronavirus in the hospital. We have tested all inpatients and will undertake retesting in line with national guidance, and we have appropriate segregation in place for patient care.”
“Testing for symptomatic staff and household contacts has been offered across the Trust since the beginning of April.”
“In addition, there is an emerging picture of asymptomatic staff testing positive for the virus. Any members of staff who have tested positive have self-isolated in line with national guidance. We are also in the process of testing all staff in clinical areas at the hospital who may have had some patient contact.”
“Appropriate levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are available and this is being used in line with Public Health England guidance, and there have been significant efforts to minimise unnecessary staff movements across the hospital.”
The Trust has been working with its partners across the health and care system to ensure that new patients continue to receive the care and treatment they need.
Dr Oldfield adds: “Well established arrangements are in place for any emergency referrals to Weston to go to other healthcare providers, new patients continue to have access to treatment and care in other appropriate healthcare settings in the area should they need it, and we are contacting patients who have planned appointments to discuss alternative arrangements.”
“We are continuing to take the necessary steps with the aim of re-opening the A&E department and accepting new patients as soon as possible.”