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Local NHS sets out vision for sustainable future at Weston General Hospital alongside favoured option for change

Last updated: 08/04/2022

A fresh vision for services at Weston General Hospital will be shared with local Councillors at a key meeting soon.

The local NHS is setting out proposals to change the way some services are delivered, so that more people can receive their hospital treatment locally each year, and the hospital can attract the staff it needs to thrive. The proposals – designed by senior doctors, nurses and other health professionals – are part of a second phase of work to secure a strong and sustainable future for the hospital, following a first phase in 2019.

Thousands more planned procedures, including cataracts and hip and knee operations, could take place in Weston General Hospital every year under the proposals. The A&E would continue to run 14 hours a day, 7 days a week – with additional specialist care provided so that more people could be treated and return home on the same day. Two onsite ‘centres of excellence’ would also be created for surgery and older people’s care.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been developing the potential new model together. They have identified two possible options for implementation.

Option 2 is favoured for progression:

  • Option 1: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken straight to a neighbouring hospital for their treatment.
  • Option 2: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken to Weston General Hospital, as they are today. If they required ongoing inpatient care they would be transferred to a neighbouring hospital for treatment.

Although a full evaluation of both options is still in progress, senior doctors and other health professionals are strongly in favour of Option 2, because it:

  • Enables more people of all ages to be treated locally.
  • Enables more emergency patients to be treated at Weston A&E.
  • Improves the availability of emergency ambulances due to reduced journey times.
  • Is more likely to attract and retain staff for the longer term.

A recent survey of almost 900 local people - including hospital staff – found that 85% agree that services at the hospital need to change, and 68% support the idea of transferring patients who require an unplanned inpatient stay to neighbouring hospitals. There was also widespread support (91%) for improvements to same day emergency care at A&E, which both options would enable.

The proposals build on the first phase of work in 2019, which included enhancement of children’s urgent care provision in line with the rising number of young families coming to live in the area. In addition to the specific proposals being put forward, work continues to develop and improve existing services such as maternity, cancer care and outpatients.

Dr Andrew Hollowood, Medical Director at Weston General Hospital said:

“This is a great opportunity to secure a bright and sustainable future for Weston General Hospital, and we are looking forward to discussing our proposals with local Councillors. We want to be able to provide more of the services people need most often and are confident these proposals would help us secure that.

“As well as increasing the numbers of planned operations we could provide locally, preserving the 14/7 A&E service and improving same day emergency care is something we’ve had good public support for so far.

“Responding effectively to the health needs of the local population remains critical in this concluding phase of the work.”

A meeting of the North Somerset Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 20 April 2022 will consider whether the proposed model of care and potential options require a formal public consultation. Even without the requirement for a public consultation, the NHS would conduct an extended period of public and staff engagement before any decisions or changes were made – with any implementation likely to take place in early 2023.

Further details are set out in a paper submitted to the North Somerset Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel (HOSP) which has been published on the North Somerset Council website. The meeting of the North Somerset HOSP will take place at 13:30 on 20 April 2022. More information about the meeting is available at https://n-somerset.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=147&MId=938&Ver=4