Shropshire Star

Future of inpatient bed unit at Bishop's Castle Community Hospital will be decided next month

A healthcare chief has promised that authorities ‘absolutely understand’ and ‘feel the passion’ that residents in Bishop’s Castle have shown over the town’s hospital provision.

Last week, hundreds marched through Bishops Castle to keep the beds open at Bishops Castle Hospital

The Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) is due to make a decision next month about inpatient bed service in the south Shropshire town.

The inpatient beds at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital were ‘temporarily closed’ in October 2021 due to staffing shortages and safety concerns.

An extended consultation looking into the future of the beds will end next week before a final decision is announced at a meeting in Bishop’s Castle on September 7.

Shropcom chief executive Patricia Davies said that it had received over 800 responses online and over 100 responses face-to-face as part of its consultation.

Paper surveys are currently being collated and there has also been participation from the community in focus groups.

Last week hundreds of people marched through Bishop’s Castle calling for Shropcom to reopen the inpatient beds and the town council handed over a petition.

“All of that information will be collated, and we will be bringing that together into a final independent report that the trust board will review,” said Mrs Davies.

“We’ve had a fantastic response to the engagement and we absolutely understand and feel the passion that people have for healthcare services that we deliver, along with partners in the Bishop’s Castle area.

“We really do understand people’s views and concerns.”

Mrs Davies added that the consultation phase had been extended to ‘gather more data’ based on feedback received from the public sessions. This was after concerns were raised that the health body had not done enough to recruit registered nurses to re-open the inpatient beds.

Shropcom has commissioned a HR recruitment report assessing recruitment over the last 18 months and whether anything more could have been done.

The recruitment report will also assess the labour market for registered nurses to work in the Bishop’s Castle area.

Shropcom held a private meeting at Ludlow Hospital last month to discuss community hospital beds. Progress of the Bishop’s Castle consultation was discussed during the private session.

Peter Featherstone, resource and performance committee chair, provided an update at the Shropcom monthly board meeting.

He said: “It went fairly well. At the time we had just started some of the sessions over at Bishop’s Castle so we got some feedback from there.

“It was my first visit to Ludlow and I was quite mindful of the state of the building and the work that’s going on there.

“It really brought home to me, when we talk about life of buildings and the next steps in our plans for Ludlow.

“It will be interesting at some point for us to have another session about Ludlow and our options going forward.”