John Penrose: ‘A&E Must Re-Open Promptly’

Reacting to the decision to close Weston hospital’s A&E department overnight for a temporary period, local MP John Penrose said:

“Even though this report highlights how hard-working and committed Weston Hospital’s staff are, and how much many parts of the hospital have improved, it also confirms long-standing problems with the Accident and Emergency department.

“It’s essential that this night-time A&E closure is only temporary, as a way of re-setting the department so it can improve and re-open as soon as possible. The Hospital leadership have promised me that’s what’s planned, but I will be speaking to other regional and national health chiefs today to insist that they provide whatever the Hospital needs to get this vital part of Weston’s medical services back on its feet as soon as possible.”

North Somerset Times Article (Read Online)

Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) has announced this morning (Wednesday) it is introducing the temporary measure [of closing the A&E at night time] from July 4th because the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated its emergency department as inadequate.

The CQC said there were insufficient senior doctor numbers, waiting times at night were too high and patients were being left in corridors.

The department will remain open in the day between 8am-10pm, the times when about 80 per cent of people use it currently.

Emergency cases will be taken to Taunton or Bristol when Weston’s emergency department is closed.

James Rimmer, WAHT chief executive, said: “We agree with the CQC that our urgent and emergency care services are not sustainable in the way they are currently organised.

“Our A&E has been fragile for several years.

“We have severe challenges with recruiting and retaining senior doctors to staff our A&E department 24 hours and day, seven days a week, and now need to find new ways to address this.

“We are at risk of falling short of providing safe levels of staffing in our A&E department at night.

“Our staff have worked incredibly hard to shore-up the department but despite significant efforts we just can’t recruit enough permanent doctors and are very dependent on temporary and locum staff.

“That isn’t sustainable for such a highly specialist clinical team and poses an intractable problem for the Trust.

“Today we are announcing that we will be temporarily closing our A&E at Weston overnight from July 4, between 10pm-8am, because we can’t provide safe staffing levels overnight from then. This is not an easy decision to make, but patient safety is our number one priority.”

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