Coun­cil­lors vow to ‘fight to the

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - STEPHEN SUMNER [email protected]­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

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

The ac­ci­dent and emer­gency de­part­ment stopped op­er­at­ing overnight in July 2017 and clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing group lead­ers are about to launch a con­sul­ta­tion on whether to open it round-the-clock 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 Tues- day’s 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 any­thing 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.”

Cllr El­fan Ap Rees said: “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 roundthe-clock op­er­a­tion of the ac­ci­dent and emer­gency de­part­ment.

This would see a ser­vice, led by con­sul­tants, at the hospi­tal all the time.

Coun­cil leader Nigel Ash­ton

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