Local health chiefs are about to launch new plans for Weston hospital and, for the first time in what seems like ages, it looks like good news. We’re a growing town and the hospital will expand to match, treating more patients for a wider variety of problems than in the past.
It hasn’t always been this way. Weston Hospital struggled to attract staff for years because it was so much smaller than the big teaching Hospitals in Bristol or Taunton. That meant using expensive agency nurses and locum doctors, which soaked up cash that could have been used to treat more patients, and made services hard to deliver safely too.
We turned a corner when Weston merged with Bristol Royal Infirmary, which made it easier to recruit the missing staff and to share senior medics with the BRI so there’s more experience and knowledge to go round. And it means fewer trips to Bristol for local patients who need things like eye injections or cancer treatments too, because more of them will happen at Weston now instead.
The hospital has become less of a political football too, I’m pleased to say. We’ve gone from candle-lit political protests outside the hospital gates a few years ago to cross-party sign-off from the local Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel, which should make things easier for medics all round.
But there are still big issues to solve, and not just in the hospital either. Lots of you are writing to me about problems with GP appointments, NHS dentists, long ambulance waits and more. I’m taking them up with local health chiefs but, in the meantime, there’s a public consultation on the hospital plans that’s starting soon. It’s your chance to have your say, and I’d encourage everyone to get involved. We’ve waited a long time for this, so we’ve got to get it right!