Update on temporary overnight closure of A&E at Weston and noted improvements by the CQC

Joint Press Statement

Today Tuesday 6 March 2018, the Board of Weston Area Health NHS Trust has conducted its standard comprehensive monthly review of the impact and management of the temporary overnight closure of A&E. The A&E at Weston General Hospital is open as normal between 8am – 10pm, which is when the majority (80%) of our patients have always used it.


In addition this month, the Board of Weston reviewed the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection report published after an unannounced visit to A&E in December 2017. The CQC found that the Trust had taken action since their inspection in May 2017 (which resulted in the temporary overnight closure in July 2017 on the grounds of patient safety). and clear improvements in Emergency and Urgent care services in the hospital have been made.


Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker of the CQC said “By consolidating their resources, the trust has been better able to ensure that people arriving at the hospital during the daytime are receiving a safe, high quality service.  Patients are no longer waiting so long to be admitted, transferred or discharged.” 


Responding to the CQC James Rimmer said “We are delighted to note that the CQC have recognised the significant progress we have made in improving patient safety in A&E since they were last here. We also recognise that we are on a journey of improvement and fully support the CQCs findings that there is still more work to be done.”


The improvements described in the CQC inspection report refer to current provision between 8am and 10pm.  The temporary overnight closure of Weston’s A&E department remains in place as it cannot reopen without safe and sustainable staffing levels in place throughout the night. Despite some progress in recruiting the permanent doctors needed to fully staff the department 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it remains an ongoing challenge and continues to be difficult to achieve.


Patient safety remains our priority and we can confirm that the local NHS continues to manage well. The Trust Board and the CCG Governing Body remain confident that plans to ensure patients needing emergency treatment during the night are treated safely at an alternative neighbouring A&E department are continuing to work well and patients are receiving safe care.


The number of people affected by the temporary overnight closure remains in line with expectations:


  • around 3-4  people per night have attended other A&E departments themselves,
  • around 8-9 people per night have been taken by ambulance to other A&E departments
  • around 5-6 patients per night have been admitted to either the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead Hospital in Bristol or Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.


We would like to thank the many health care staff at Weston General Hospital and partner organisations for their ongoing commitment and hard work to deliver safe care to all patients during this time.


Patients needing urgent but not emergency care can access the most appropriate care for them from out of hours community health care providers and the out-of-hours GP service by ringing 111.  Anyone with an immediate life-threatening condition should call 999, as they would now.


Whilst we are continuing our efforts to recruit the numbers of permanent doctors needed to safely staff A&E during the night, we are making progress to find alternatives to how we can treat some patients overnight at Weston without the need to admit them via an A&E department. 


One specific piece of work is looking at how a patient with a fractured or broken hip can be admitted directly to a ward at Weston during the night for treatment so that they no longer need to be taken to Bristol or Taunton. This work is now nearing its completion. In April we will provide a detailed update on how this new process will work, the benefits it will bring to our patients and timescales for making it happen.


The long term future of A&E is being addressed as part of the work of Healthy Weston: joining up services for better care in Weston, published in October 2017. This is looking at alternative ways of offering care locally to patients traditionally seen in A&E, and at the types of urgent and emergency services best provided by Weston or by another hospital nearby that are clinically and financially sustainable.


Healthy Weston also sets out an expanded role for Weston General Hospital providing a greater range of health and care services on the hospital site, enabling patients to be treated in one place without needing to go to hospital or travel to different places for treatment.


Our joint ambition is to create a sustainable acute hospital which remains at the heart of the community and provides the services it is best placed to do in order to meet the needs of the local people.  We remain committed to ensuring people in North Somerset have access to safe, high quality, sustainable urgent and emergency care services, as close to home as possible.


The overnight closure of Weston General Hospital’s A&E remains a temporary measure. No permanent changes to A&E services will be taken without a full public consultation.


Julia Ross                                                        James Rimmer

Chief Executive, NHS Bristol,                        Chief Executive, Weston Area Health NHS Trust
North Somerset & South
Gloucestershire CCGS