NHS under pressure: What is happening to A&E services?

As a fourth hospital in England closes its casualty ward overnight, and with more downgrades likely to follow, are the alternatives for patients sufficient?

Medical director Dr Peter Collins admits it was a difficult decision, but Weston General Hospital, which serves more than 200,000 people in North Somerset, will close its doors at night.

More hospitals are likely to follow. The British Medical Association estimates that in 18 areas, health bosses are considering closing or downgrading their A&E departments.

Analysis of hospital data at Weston shows one in five patients attended between the hours it is now closed.

Those with serious and life-threatening emergencies are being told to dial 999 and ambulances will take them to hospitals in Bristol, 24 miles away, or Taunton, 27 miles away.

The NHS insists closures will only happen when there are viable alternatives in place such as longer GP opening hours, or better centralised care elsewhere.

Article from BBC news, 4 July 2017