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  1. ITV Report

Nearly 10 million pounds spent on agency staff last year at Weston General Hospital

Credit: ITV News West Country

Nearly 10 million pounds has been spent on agency staff at Weston General Hospital in the past year according to a report.

The Healthy Weston report shows that, in one month alone, agency staff covered 800 nursing shifts.

The hospital's emergency department has been closed overnight since July 2017 because of a shortage of doctors.

The hospital's emergency department has been closed overnight since July 2017. Credit: ITV News West Country

A new programme to "transform health services in the Weston-super-Mare area" revealed that the Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire Care Commissioning Group (CCG) spent £9.9 million on agency staff at the hospital in 2017/18.

This is 8.6 per cent of its overall budget.

A CCG spokesperson said: "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.

"This means there is an unsustainable reliance on locum and agency staff."

Credit: ITV News West Country

The report also highlights the difference in life expectancy between the area's most affluent and most deprived wards.

Is says those living in the town's more wealthy areas can expect to live 10 years longer than those in the most deprived.

In some of the town's most deprived areas, 42 per cent of residents smoke, compared to a national average of 15 per cent.

Credit: ITV News West Country

The future of Weston Hospital's A&E department is currently being considered as part of the Healthy Weston programme.

Five proposals are being put forward by the CCG.

Options range from reinstating the A&E department to setting up a GP-led urgent medical centre.

A consultation on the options is expected to start in January.