Following his discussions with local health leaders last week, yesterday Weston’s MP John Penrose met Health Ministers and regulators to discuss the problems at Weston hospital’s Accident & Emergency (A&E) department. The meeting follows this week’s announcement of £846k extra cash for the Hospital’s troubled A&E, proving the Government’s commitment to the unit’s long-term future.
In a constructive meeting in Westminster, Ministers and Health Chiefs confirmed that the decision to close Weston’s A&E overnight is temporary, to keep patients safe, and is completely separate from its long-term future.
John said: “Nobody likes the idea of a temporary night-time A&E closure, but we’ve got to put patient safety first.
“The problem is staffing. A local hospital like Weston can’t offer the career opportunities newly-qualified A&E doctors are looking for, when there are much bigger teaching hospitals just up the road in Bristol. That means they can’t fill empty jobs, and have to use temporary doctors and nurses which costs miles more and, in the long term, isn’t medically safe for patients either. The long-term answer is closer partnerships and joint hiring with those big Bristol teaching hospitals, so we can attract talented permanent staff.
“I made the point that closing our A&E overnight is more expensive than keeping it open. So it’s in everyone’s interest to find a sustainable answer quickly. Then we can plough the savings back into better front-line health provision for the people of Weston.
“Ministers and other health chiefs have promised me the outline long-term plan for our A&E’s future will be ready in about six weeks. Then we all have a chance to check and comment on them and, providing they make sense for local residents, they can start putting the permanent solution in place.”