More on Weston Hospital Closure

The town’s mayor, Mark Canniford, last week criticised the “total disregard” for the town’s residents from day-trippers who packed on to the beach.

A general hospital in Somerset has temporarily stopped accepting new patients in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19 on site.

Weston general hospital in Weston-super-Mare stopped taking admissions, including into its A&E department, from 8am on Monday “to maintain patient and staff safety”.

The decision was a “clinically led” one that had been taken at a time when the hospital had a high number of patients with coronavirus, according to a statement.

The hospital provides clinical services to residents in north Somerset – a population of about 212,000 people.

The hospital had experienced a “spike” in infections and was being closed to new patients so a deep clean could take place, according to John Penrose, the MP for Weston-super-Mare, who tweeted that he had spoken to local health chiefs.

While the cause of the increase was unclear, doctors have been concerned about a mini-resurgence in localised areas. Social media users who replied to Penrose suggested an influx of visitors to the area since the easing of lockdown rules was to blame, mentioning queues outside chip shops and day-trippers on Weston-super-Mare’s promenade.

The town’s mayor, Mark Canniford, last week criticised the “total disregard” for the town’s residents from day-trippers who packed on to the beach.

The general hospital is not the first to be overwhelmed during the coronavirus crisis. In March, Northwick Park in north-west London was forced to declare a “critical incident” after running out of critical care beds. It asked nearby hospitals to look after patients as it could not cope with the Covid-19 patients it was receiving.

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS foundation trust said the measure at Weston general was precautionary and the situation would be kept under review.

The trust said there were arrangements in place for new patients to access treatment and care “in other appropriate healthcare settings in the area should they need it”.

Dr William Oldfield, a medical director at the trust, said: “As with any hospital, the number of patients with Covid-19 will frequently change as people are admitted and discharged. We currently have a high number of patients with Covid-19 in Weston general hospital.

“While the vast majority will have come into the hospital with Covid-19, as an extra precaution we have taken the proactive step to temporarily stop accepting new patients to maintain patient and staff safety.

“This is a clinically led decision and we are being supported by our system partners to ensure that new patients receive the care and treatment they need in the appropriate setting, and we are continuing to provide high-quality care to existing patients who are being treated in the hospital.

“We have a robust coronavirus testing programme in place for patients and staff to identify cases quickly, with appropriate measures taken by clinical teams as required. We will keep the situation under constant review.”

The public are being directed to alternatives including out-of-hours GP services, pharmacies, NHS 111 and smaller NHS units dealing with minor injuries.

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