Weston General Hospital in Somerset has temporarily stopped accepting new patients, including into its accident and emergency department, due to a “high number of patients with Covid-19”.
The move, introduced from 8am on Monday, was a “precautionary measure” in order to maintain the safety of staff and patients in response to the high number of patients with coronavirus, it said.
“We currently have a high number of patients with Covid-19 in Weston General Hospital”
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said arrangements were in place for new patients to continue to have access to treatment and care in other “appropriate settings”.
These include the Out of Hours GP service, the minor injuries units in Bridgwater, Clevedon and Yate, and the urgent treatment centre in South Bristol.
The trust said the decision to close the hospital was clinically-led and supported by the wider Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire health and care system.
However, it has not disclosed how many Covid-19 patients it is currently treating. Local politicians have speculated that a surge in day trippers to beaches like Weston-super-Mare could be the cause.
However, the South West region has so far had the fewest deaths confirmed from Covid-19 at 1,161, according latest data released by NHS England on 25 May for the period up to 5pm the previous day.
The compares to over 5,000 deaths in London and the Midlands out of a national total of 25,751 in England.
“We have a robust coronavirus testing programme in place for patients and staff to identify cases quickly”
Dr William Oldfield, medical director at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston, 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,” said Dr Oldfield in a trust statement.
“Whilst 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.”
He added: “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.”
The trust was keeping the situation “under constant review”, noted Dr Oldfield.