CCG Director reiterates that “public consultation is not a vote or referendum”
A Save Weston A&E campaigner is appealing for people to urge their MP to reject the plan to downgrade the hospital’s emergency department.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has proposed the overnight closure of Weston General Hospital’s emergency service is permanently implemented as part of the Healthy Weston programme.
People were given the chance to have their say on the proposal during the Healthy Weston consultation, with the majority of respondents in favour of a return to a 24-hour A&E department.
Campaigner and retired GP, Dr Richard Lawson, said: “Unless more GPs and nurses can be recruited immediately, the BNSSG CCG plan is going to be delayed. Given the national shortage of GPs, that delay is going to wreck their plan to turn Weston General Hospital into an urgent treatment centre that can be sold off to a private company. There is still everything to play for, and we would urge all people who care about Weston to write to their MP calling on him to reject the NHS bosses’ plan.”
The Healthy Weston consultation was carried out by an independent organisation, called The Evidence Centre, however, campaigners believe the CCG’s report on the findings has not answered concerns raised by responders.
Save Weston A&E campaigner Steve Wilson said: “While the data may have been compiled independently, the report itself has only catalogued responses by themes and didn’t interrogate the consultation critically or answer any of the questions raised by responders. For all we know the CCG will be able to ignore these findings and simply continue on the path of downgrading the hospital. The Save Weston A&E Campaign, in its response to the consultation, made it clear the CCG needed to answer serious questions about their statistics and their approach and must recognise the lack of GPs and nurses would be a serious problem for their plans.”
The A&E has been closed for more than two years, and despite health bosses insisting the closure would not last, proposals to scale back services will be decided on in October. The CCG hopes to oversee a medically-led emergency department, which will open from 8am-10pm seven days a week – meaning patients arriving overnight have to travel to Bristol or Taunton.
Dr Martin Jones, the CCG’s medical director said: “We heard from more than 3,000 people during the Healthy Weston consultation, with eight out of ten saying they understood the need for change. It is important to recognise that a public consultation is not a vote or referendum, but an opportunity to gather a range of insights, views and feedback on proposals before any decisions are made. We are really pleased that so many local people and hospital staff gave their views. We now have a much better understanding of what people think and what is most important to them. Our vision is for Weston General to be a dynamic hospital at the heart of the local community – attracting and retaining the staff it needs to thrive.”
Article originally appeared on Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury
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