Doctors, other clinical staff and health leaders have published ‘Healthy Weston - Why our local health services need to change’, a document which sets out four key health care challenges that must be addressed to improve local services.
The case for change demonstrates the area has a changing population and changing health and care needs. Whilst the population is only predicted to grow by around 1% by 2025, a fifth of this growth is anticipated to be in people over 70 years old, with a range of long-term health conditions and care needs.
There is currently a variation in the quality of and access to primary (GP) and community services, which means some patients find it more difficult to access care than others.
Staffing vacancies and low patient numbers for some services at Weston General Hospital mean national quality standards are not always consistently met because of a shortage of doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. For example, in March 2018, there was a 23% consultant vacancy rate, with particular challenges staffing the Emergency Department and General Medicine, and a nursing vacancy rate of 24%. This means there is an unsustainable reliance on locum and agency staff.
There is also a need to make sure that resources and funding are used in the most effective and efficient way across the full range of services people need. The case for change highlights that 56% of all NHS funds available for the local population is spent on acute hospital services but 90% of patient activity takes place in primary and community services. In addition, there is a significant gap between available funding and growing costs for Weston General Hospital that needs to be addressed by organising services differently in the future.
“Healthy Weston is our clear and compelling vision for the future of health and care services that will meet the needs of local people and this document sets out clearly why change is needed. As a local GP, I am committed to making sure we deliver the very best services for the local community,” said Dr Martin Jones, Medical Director at Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG. “Local clinicians, staff, health partners, community organisations and local people have been involved in discussions about the challenges and how we might solve them.”
Everyone involved is working hard on identifying potential options for the future shape of healthcare services that we will formally consult on in 2019 before any final decisions are made. It is really important that local people get involved during the consultation.
Healthy Weston covers a range of healthcare services and includes an ongoing pilot project involving the recruitment and retention of local GPs, improving mental health and frailty services as well as making sure we can secure a strong and sustainable future for Weston General Hospital.
“The future of Weston General Hospital is an important local issue and we have been discussing with staff, partners and local people about how it can continue to play a vital and central role in delivering top quality healthcare to the local community” said James Rimmer, Chief Executive of Weston Area Health NHS Trust.
From mid-November, local people will have a chance to speak to health staff about the case for change at a series of roadshows held in and around Weston as well as attending meetings with local doctors and health leaders during the autumn and winter.
Visit the Healthier Together website to find out more and sign up to receive further information.