Weston General Hospital
Weston General Hospital, Grange Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 4TQ / Tel 01934 636363.
Weston-super-Mare is a typical seaside town with a beautiful beach, a pier, and traditional entertainment. There are water sports, kite surfing and sand-yachting, and an annual sand-dune motocross race (much feared in the hospital). It is also popular for retirement, and has a number of rehabilitation centres for drug and alcohol addiction.
Weston General Hospital is a 320 bed hospital with 1,800 staff. It has a growing catchment area of some 180.000 residents, which are increased considerably during holiday periods. Although much smaller than the Bristol teaching hospitals, the hospital plays a significant role in providing health services to its corner of Somerset, and is expanding steadily. In 2010, we have built a new MRI/CT scanning suite, and a newly built A&E department. We have opened a paediatric day-unit, but have no overnight paediatric services.
Anaesthetic Department Tel: 01934 647162
The Anaesthetic Department
The Department of Anaesthesia consists of 11 consultants, 1 staff grade anaesthetist, 3/4 rotating trainees, 2 foundation doctors and 2 international trainees.
Trainees usually spend one year at CT1 in Weston. ACCS trainees move to the BRI for 3 months during the year for their ICU block; our ICU does not have training recognition. There is a 1:9 partial shift rota with no middle grade cover. Night duties are mainly ICU and occasional theatre work. Trauma and CEPOD lists during the day mean that out-of-hours work is life-or-limb threatening only, and it is not uncommon to have a few hours rest during a night shift. Trainees are not expected to give solo anaesthetics without a consultant being in the building, day or night. More experienced trainees run their own lists without immediate supervision. The hospital provides excellent training conditions for novice anaesthetists in their first years.
Orthopaedics is a major speciality. Many procedures involve local or regional techniques, and an ultrasound machine is available for nerve blocks. There are General Surgery, Urology and Gynaecology. The midwife-led maternity unit does not have routine anaesthetic involvement.
The 5-bedded intensive care unit has facilities for mechanical ventilation, invasive monitoring and measurement of cardiac output, percutaneous tracheostomy, and renal support. We have dedicated daily consultant ward rounds, an outreach team, and are taking part in ICNARC with SMRs consistently below 0.9. In keeping with the population spectrum, we see a lot of complex elderly patients, and a fair amount of alcohol and drug related illness including trauma. We transfer 30-40 ventilated patients a year to teaching hospitals for specialist treatment, mainly for neurosurgery.
The duty rota is organised by the consultant who is in charge of the rota. There is a high degree of flexibility. In practice, swapping blocks of ICU duties with your colleagues allows almost any leave to be taken, often at less than the stipulated eight weeks’ notice.
Some General Observations
Our trainees are generally a happy lot. The hospital is small and friendly, and you will quickly come to know most staff in your working environment by name. Senior support is good, with enthusiastic consultants willing to teach. The anaesthetic and ICU nurses are of a high calibre, and will provide help and advice to novices. Weekly teaching sessions are held by both juniors and consultants. Exam success rates are high, helped by ample time for studying and a flexible rota. Our post-graduate centre has been built only a few years ago, and is full of shiny flat screens and information technology. The ICU team runs a bi-monthly ALERT course, and suitable trainees are encouraged to teach on it.