Coun­cil­lors pledge to fight against hos­pi­tal down­grad­ing

Bristol Post - - NEWS - Daniel CHIP­PER­FIELD daniel.chip­per­[email protected]­

COUN­CIL­LORS have promised to fight the down­grad­ing of We­ston Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal “to the bit­ter end”.

The A&E closed overnight in July 2017 and clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing group lead­ers are about to launch a con­sul­ta­tion on whether to open it 24/7 or 14 hours a day, or to re­place it with an emer­gency cen­tre or an ur­gent treat­ment cen­tre.

Pub­lic con­cern at the pro­pos­als has been aimed at North Som­er­set Coun­cil but mem­bers say the health bosses be­hind the pro­pos­als need to “stand up and be counted”.

Coun­cil­lor Mike Bell told a full coun­cil meet­ing: “We will fight the down­grad­ing of the hos­pi­tal to the bit­ter end.

“The con­sul­ta­tion is noth­ing to do with North Som­er­set Coun­cil, but any­thin g to do with the hos­pi­tal ap­pears to be blamed on the coun­cil. It’s the CCG’s con­sul­ta­tion.

“This is a re­ally cru­cial time in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. It’s re­ally im­por­tant that, even if peo­ple have done it be­fore, that they en­gage this time.

“We have been re­liant on get­ting in­for­ma­tion from CCG man­age­ment and I’m con­cerned we don’t get the full pic­ture.

“They should be open and trans­par­ent about this. They mustn’t start to keep things be­hind closed doors.

“If we’re go­ing to stand united and don’t want to see the A&E down­graded, we need to speak with one voice, and send that mes­sage to the Gov­ern­ment, who hold the purse strings.”

Coun­cil leader Nigel Ash­ton said: “There are prob­lems in that it doesn’t at­tract enough doc­tors. That doesn’t mean it has to be down­graded - it could spe­cialise.

“I’ve been to a lot of meet­ings and I’ve never been filled with ab­so­lute con­vic­tion they have been giv­ing me all the facts.

“I think they’ve de­cided how they want - that’s what hap­pens in a con­sul­ta­tion. You have any idea of what you want to do.”

Cllr El­fan Ap Rees added: “I think the NHS is hid­ing be­hind its true colours. We keep get­ting blamed in the news­pa­pers. The CCG needs to stand up and be counted.”

The CCG closed the A&E overnight be­cause the hos­pi­tal is un­able to re­cruit enough per­ma­nent staff to fill a rota to run a safe ser­vice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It says it needs to ‘act to en­sure We­ston Gen­eral re­mains a strong, fo­cused hos­pi­tal at the cen­tre of the com­mu­nity for years to come’.

It will do this by re­fo­cus­ing ser­vices so they meet the needs of the pop­u­la­tion - made up of more older peo­ple, more peo­ple liv­ing with long-term con­di­tions, and more young fam­i­lies - and en­sur­ing peo­ple can ac­cess ur­gent and emer­gency care and high-qual­ity spe­cial­ist ser­vices when they are needed.

The five pro­pos­als be­ing put for­ward in­clude re­in­stat­ing the 24/7 ac­ci­dent and emer­gency depart­ment. This would see a ser­vice, led by con­sul­tants, at the hos­pi­tal 24/7.

Al­ter­na­tively, it could be a con­sul­tant-led A&E op­er­at­ing 14 hours a day - be­tween 8am and 10pm - seven days a week, with night time cases go­ing to other hos­pi­tals.

A fur­ther sug­ges­tion is for a con­sul­tant - and GP-led A&E op­er­at­ing again for 14 hours a day.

Or the A&E could be re­placed with a GP-led med­i­cal emer­gency cen­tre which would again op­er­ate 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

An­other op­tion is to set up a GP-led ur­gent treat­ment cen­tre which would open 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

We­ston Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal pro­vides ser­vices to ap­prox­i­mately 150,000 peo­ple. That is set to grow to 162,000 by 2025.

Dr Martin Jones,clin­i­cal di­rec­tor at Bris­tol, North Som­er­set and South Glouces­ter­shire CCG, said in a state­ment: “North Som­er­set Coun­cil is an im­por­tant part­ner in the work we are do­ing to im­prove all health and care ser­vices for lo­cal peo­ple through the Healthy We­ston project.

“Clin­i­cians and di­rec­tors from the CCG have had a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber and range of meet­ings with in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lors, the health and over­view scru­tiny panel and MPs about lo­cal health ser­vices, in­clud­ing the fu­ture of We­ston Hos­pi­tal since its overnight clo­sure in the sum­mer of 2017.

“There are more meet­ings planned with coun­cil lead­ers as we con­tinue our work on pro­pos­als for the fu­ture of the hos­pi­tal with lo­cal clin­i­cians and other NHS trusts.”

We will fight the down­grad­ing of the hos­pi­tal to the bit­ter end

Coun­cil­lor Mike Bell

We­ston Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal

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