Temporary overnight closure of Weston General Hospital A&E department: joint statement from North Somerset CCG and Weston Area Health Trust

Date: 05 Sep 2017

Category: Weston General Hospital

Today, 5 September 2017, Weston Area Health Trust Board has reviewed the temporary overnight closure of A&E services and can confirm that the local NHS is managing well.  Patients continue to receive safe care and the numbers of patients affected by the overnight temporary closure are in line with expectations: around 4-5 people per night have attended other A&E departments themselves, around 9 people per night have been taken by ambulance to other A&E departments and around 5-6 patients per night have been admitted to either the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead Hospital in Bristol or Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

The local health system, including neighbouring hospitals, local GPs and the ambulance service, worked very hard in advance of the temporary closure to put in place the right plans to ensure patients who need emergency treatment during the night are treated safely at an alternative neighbouring A&E. The Trust Board and the CCG Governing Body remain confident that these plans are working effectively and patients continue to receive safe care.

We would like to thank the many health care staff involved for their commitment and ongoing hard work to deliver safe care to all patients and we also want to thank the public for using services wisely during this time.  We would like to remind the public that between the hours of 8am and 10pm A&E is open as normal and all other hospital services remain unaffected.

Overnight services will remain closed until we as a system are confident that safe and sustainable staffing levels are in place throughout the night –patient safety remains our priority.  Whilst Weston General Hospital is doing all it can to recruit the right number of permanent doctors needed to fully staff an A&E team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in particular, to have sufficient doctors to staff a rota with overnight duties to ensure it can run the service safely at night, it continues to be an ongoing challenge and will remain so.

We are therefore working in collaboration to develop a viable service model for overnight urgent care services at Weston in the short term.  For example, we are looking at how patients with certain conditions, such as a fractured hip, could be admitted directly to Weston Hospital, what services are needed to treat them effectively and the number and type of staff needed to provide these services safely.

As commissioners, the CCG is considering how the long term viability and stability of Weston General Hospital, including decisions on the future model of urgent and emergency care in Weston and the surrounding area, can be secured as part of the overall transformation of health and care services for North Somerset.   Our joint goal is to make sure local people can access safe, high quality, sustainable urgent and emergency care services from wherever they live in North Somerset, as close to home as possible.

At the North Somerset CCG Governing Body Meeting on the 3 October, we plan to formally launch our ‘Commissioning Context’ document which will set out our vision for comprehensive and excellent healthcare services for the people of Weston-super-Mare, Worle, Winscombe and the surrounding villages of the south Rurals.  It will also include the process we are developing to design a bright and exciting future for Weston General Hospital, putting it at the heart of a more integrated and proactive local health care system designed to meet the specific needs of local people.

Our plans are still being finalised but we expect to start a period of public dialogue in October on the changes we are developing (in partnership with Weston and the wider health and care system). This will include looking at the future model of urgent and emergency care in Weston and the surrounding areas.

Whilst the work continues, patients who need to go to hospital at night by ambulance will be taken by the ambulance crew directly from their home or pick up point to either The Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead Hospital in Bristol or Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. If patients need urgent but not emergency care, the most appropriate care can be accessed locally from out-of-hours community health care providers and the out-of-hours GP service by ringing 111.  Anyone with an immediate life-threatening condition should call 999, as they would now.

The closure remains a temporary measure and no permanent changes to Weston’s A&E services or any other services in the hospital will be taken without a full public consultation.