December 5, 2017
Candle lit vigil held at Weston General Hospital to protest A&E closure

Campaigners from the Burnham-On-Sea area took part in a candle lit vigil outside Weston General hospital last night (Monday) to protest against ongoing A&E closures.

Weston General Hospital's Accident and Emergency department has been closing between 10pm and 8am since July due to staffing issues.

Monday's vigil was organised by campaign group Save Weston A&E ahead of a Hospital Board taking place today (Tuesday). The vigil was the latest in a series of protests since the overnight closures were announced.

Save Weston A&E says: "The hospital leadership have recently announced that A&E will not reopen overnight before Christmas because they have still not recruited sufficient doctors and nurses to staff it overnight. We are disappointed and very worried by the decision now that winter is here. Winter pressures are likely to increase ambulance journeys overnight to Bristol and Taunton, not forgetting that those hospitals will be facing their own winter pressures."

Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey, right, has said this week he's "encouraged" with the rate of recruitment at Weston General Hospital, having spoken to its Chief Executive, James Rimmer.

Mr Heappey told "Twenty per cent of the patients at Weston are from the Wells constituency and so the hospital is a vital resource for those living in the Burnham-On-Sea, Highbridge and Cheddar Valley area."

"I am encouraged that recruiting is progressing well and that the hospital hopes to re-open the A&E at night in March."

"But I will continue to monitor the situation and support my colleague John Penrose, who is working tirelessly with the hospital to get the A&E re-open at night as quickly as possible."

Weston’s A&E department has been temporarily shut because the ward was not sufficiently staffed to operate 24/7 and ambulances have since been sent to Bristol and Taunton overnight.

A spokesman for Weston Area Health Trust said: "Patient safety is our priority. We can confirm that there is no anticipated date for re-opening our A&E overnight as it is wholly reliant on our ability to recruit enough permanent A&E doctors and nurses to safely staff the department."

"Good progress is being made with recruitment, but new doctors and nurses also require lengthy training and supervision until they are able to work independently. We have to be assured that staffing levels are safe and very importantly that they are sustainable. We could not be in a position where we lifted the temporary overnight closure but found ourselves back in a position of having inadequate and unsafe staffing a short time later."

"We will keep the public fully up to date on progress and when firm plans or decisions are made we will share these widely with the public.
Meanwhile North Somerset CCG’s Healthy Weston programme continues which aims to build a strong and vibrant future both for Weston General Hospital and our A&E department."


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