14 March 2022: 

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston have an ambitious vision for Weston General Hospital to lead the country as a successful small hospital delivering truly integrated, safe and high-quality services that meet the specific needs of local people, now and in the future. We will do this by working in new and innovative ways with health and care partners.

We are already on the way to achieving this ambition through the changes implemented at Weston General Hospital a couple of years ago. These have made services safer and more sustainable, particularly for urgent and emergency care, critical care, emergency surgery and acute children’s services. We established much closer working between local GPs and hospital staff and put more focus on providing the services needed by the majority of local people, most of the time.

These improvements were all delivered as part of the initial phase of the Healthy Weston programme. We were clear then that we would need to build on these and explore more opportunities to bring further resilience and stability to Weston General Hospital to fully achieve our ambition. We want to create a centre of excellence in Weston, playing to the unique strengths and further developing the new ways of working already underway.

We set out some information about the opportunities we have in our 2019 public consultation and are now looking in detail at how to take them forward; building on the learning and changes we have made in response to COVID-19.

This second, and final phase of the Healthy Weston programme will focus on securing Weston General Hospital as a thriving hospital at the heart of the community.

We have three areas of focus:

  • Local doctors agree that providing urgent and emergency care services 14 hours a day, seven days a week – as is the current provision – is the right approach for Weston General Hospital. We want people who come to the emergency department at Weston General Hospital to be seen by the right person first time, be treated quickly and have a clear follow-up plan put in place. Most people would be able to go home the same day, while those who require specialist inpatient care will be treated at the most appropriate place – possibly transferring to a larger neighbouring hospital if needed. To enable this, we are looking at whether we can better organise some aspects of emergency care across Weston and North Somerset, Somerset and Bristol as part of a wider network of acute hospitals, each working to their strengths providing efficient, high-quality care for people in the BNSSG catchment area.
  • We want Weston General Hospital, and the place of Weston, to be a centre of excellence for the care of older people, supporting individuals to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, with different health and social care professionals with specialist expertise working together to deliver joined-up high-quality care. Further developing the award-winning Geriatric Emergency Medicine Service (GEMS) will ensure Weston General Hospital leads the way in providing dynamic, proactive and responsive services helping older people avoid hospital stays where possible and making any necessary hospital admissions as short as possible. An expanded GEMS, working closely with the primary care-led Care Home Hub, would make Weston-super-Mare a national leader in the care of older people.
  • We have the opportunity to increase the amount and type of planned operations and procedures at Weston General Hospital, avoiding travel for local people, offering greater choice and faster treatment from specialist teams for patients from across Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset, Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Creating a planned care surgical centre, protected from the competing and often prioritised demands of emergency surgery, will help to address waiting list backlogs. It will also create a centre of excellence for surgical training, attracting new, ambitious health and care staff to the area and providing development opportunities for the existing dedicated and committed workforce at Weston General Hospital.

In addition, we will continue to strengthen how we provide local assessment and treatment of children to support the large number of families living in Weston and the surrounding areas.

There is a positive and exciting future for Weston General Hospital delivering exceptional care and services for our resident communities as well as visitors to the area. This future will be developed by health and care professionals alongside patients, local people and their elected representatives.

The next steps for the programme are to look in more detail at designing the right model of care for Weston General Hospital, and the potential ways we can deliver this model. We will then carefully evaluate suggested options for the future using robust evidence and data to help identify those most likely to bring long-term, sustainable improvements that will see us delivering our ambition for Weston General Hospital.

There will be plenty of opportunity to be involved and we will keep you updated as our work progresses.

On behalf of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston