Liberal Democrat Councillors and Parliamentarians are demanding urgent action following serious concerns raised about Weston General Hospital’s infection control, guidance on PPE. and treatment of BAME staff, by a Whistle-blower on June 1st.
Weston Hospital has been closed by NHS University Hospitals Bristol and Weston since the 25th May as a precautionary measure. Prime Minister, Boris Johnston, claimed that the government would respond to the situation promptly, “whack-a-mole” style.
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, challenged the Health Minister, Matt Hancock MP on the whistleblower claims. She asked “what advice is he giving NHS and social care sectors on rostering of BAME staff in high risk COVID-19 areas” and “whether his department will be investigating whistle-blower claims that BAME locums were disproportionately placed on the rota at Weston Hospital”
The Health Minister responded: “She’s right to raise Weston Hospital. We have been working very hard to ensure that the local outbreak at Weston is brought under control and that is making progress.”
Matt Hancock reflected on the Disparities Report by PHE and said that the Equalities Minister would be taking this work forward.
Cllr Huw James said: “There are a wealth of questions to be had about the recent major outbreak of COVID-19 in Weston Hospital. We need to know whether the coronavirus has spread across our community or is contained to small pockets within our community through an effective and accessible COVID-19 Track and Trace system locally.”
“We also need to know where the points of failure have been in this outbreak – have patients and staff members been offered the appropriate levels of PPE, has infection control through rostering, testing, and deep cleaning been sufficient, and have Government and WHO guidelines been followed? Only until we can answer these questions can we be assured that easing lockdown will not cause major outbreaks and mass spread of the virus.”
Earlier in the week, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr Mike Bell said: “I am really disappointed that the management of the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust is refusing to put up a spokesman for media interviews on the closure of Weston Hospital, including on Radio Bristol again today [May 27th]. Local people are entitled to know what is happening and what is being done about it. The lack of answers to basic questions has not been good enough. This inevitably means that speculation and concern rise due to the lack of clarity and understanding.”
On Thursday, Liberal Democrats at the Local Authority's Health Overview Scrutiny Panel will be questioning local health bosses to ensure that the Local Authority receive open and honest communication about where the failures arose and how the sector plans to respond to them. The Panel’s members are Cllr Richard Tucker (Labour), Cllr Geoff Richardson (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Marc Aplin (Conservative), Cllr Caroline Cherry (Liberal Democrats), Cllr Andy Cole (Independent), Cllr Hugh Gregor (Independent), Cllr Ruth Jacobs (Conservative) Cllr Huw James (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Karin Haverson (Green), Cllr Tim Snaden (Independent), Cllr Mike Solomon (Independent), Cllr Roz Willis (Conservative).
You can watch the meeting live here: https://youtu.be/v881oDhGjcs