No imminent plan to reopen Weston General Hospital’s A&E 24/7
PUBLISHED: 07:59 04 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:32 04 July 2018
There is no prospect of Weston General Hospital’s A&E opening 24/7 any time soon, despite significant improvements in improving safety.
That is the view of Weston Area Health NHS Trust’s (WAHT) chief executive James Rimmer who says recruitment issues – which drove the closure last summer – remain problematic.
Today (Wednesday) marks one year since a ‘temporary’ overnight closure of the department came into force.
Mr Rimmer, said: “This was a very difficult decision and one that we did not take lightly.
“During the past year we have continued to review the care we are providing in our A&E and we have made progress to recruit doctors into the department.
“I thank our staff, our colleagues in NHS partner organisations and most of all our patients and families who have worked with us to manage this change safely.”
A&E runs from 8am-10pm daily, with ambulances and walk-in patients then directed to Bristol or Taunton for treatment.
However, changes over the past 12 months mean people suffering injuries such as a broken hip or those referred by an out-of-hours GP are admitted straight into the hospital, bypassing the closed department.
The closure decision came amid a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection which said Weston’s A&E was ‘inadequate’ with insufficient staff to run a 24-hour service.
While it notes improvements, the number of consultants is still below the required level for the hospital to reopen its emergency department so no timeframe for it to reopen has been issued.
Mr Rimmer added: “It is challenging to recruit staff in areas where there are national shortages. We have made good progress to recruit doctors, although we are not yet at a level where it would be safe to reopen overnight.
“We also face a shortage of registered nurses within the department.
“My commitment to staff, patients, their families and the public, is to continue to make improvements to the quality of care we provide in our A&E department.
“Finally, none of these changes would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of staff colleagues who have worked tirelessly to improve our services for patients.
“My thanks go to them for their ongoing dedication despite what has often been a challenging and uncertain period.”