Health boss challenged over temporary hospital closure

Three south Shropshire councillors have penned an open letter to health chiefs to challenge the decision to temporarily close Bishop's Castle Community Hospital.

Bishop's Castle Community Hospital. Photo: Google
Bishop's Castle Community Hospital. Photo: Google

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) recently announced that it would be "temporarily closed on safety grounds", saying staffing issues over the last six months had left it "extremely difficult" to run the hospital.

The move, which the trust says was not taken lightly and was necessary, has prompted concern among health campaigners and councillors.

Now, Ruth Houghton, who represents Bishop’s Castle, Clun councillor Nigel Hartin and Heather Kidd, for Chirbury and Worthen, have written to Shropcom's chief executive Patricia Davies to express their concerns.

In the letter, they say: "As the three Shropshire councillors representing the south west of the county in Bishop’s Castle, Clun and Chirbury divisions we are writing to express our dismay and shock at the sudden temporary closure of the community hospital in Bishop’s Castle.

"We fully understand the importance of delivering a safe service for patients and a safe working environment for staff.

"However, what we don’t understand is why the decision to close the hospital on a temporary basis was made when it was."

They have raised a number of questions including why the decision was suddenly made after the trust said there had been difficulties in recruitment for the past six months.

The councillors also question why the concerns had not been shared with them or Shropshire Council, whether it was a 'finance-driven decision' and ask for the trust's plans and timescales for reopening the hospital.

The letter adds: "How will this closure impact on winter pressures? As we know from previous years, bed occupancy during the winter has been dangerously high across the acute hospitals.

"The loss of the Bishop’s Castle beds, as the pandemic continues, will exacerbate this.

"We are all extremely concerned about this temporary closure.

"Other temporary closures of services in Shropshire such as the temporary closure of two wards at Ludlow Community Hospital in 2015 are still in place six years later and stroke care at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2013 was also a temporary closure but again remains in place.

"These temporary closures have, through default, become permanent as they have not reopened.

"What reassurances can you provide that this will not be the case for Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital?

"This hospital is a community asset, highly valued by local citizens across south west Shropshire and the Powys border area for its excellent care, palliative care and skilled and dedicated staff.

"It is a major loss and one that we will not accept without a challenge."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News