Trust to engage public about restoring closed hospital's services

A health trust will engage with the public as it “explores how it can build and restore services”, its chief executive says, one month after closing a hospital on staffing grounds.

The hospital was closed on staffing grounds
The hospital was closed on staffing grounds

In a report, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust CEO Patricia Davies says the temporary shut-down at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital followed several months of workforce pressure, including self-isolations and a recruitment campaign that saw “little success”.

Writing for the trust’s board she says it was “no longer sustainable” to keep the Union Street site open “without a real risk that patients would come to harm”.

Ms Davies said the closure happened too quickly for a “full and thorough options appraisal” to be prepared or for public consultation to take place, but says the community will be “fully engaged” with decisions about the future.

The trust’s board is due to meet on Thursday, December 2.

“Board members will be aware that Bishop’s Castle hospital was temporarily closed from November 1 on safety grounds,” Ms Davies writes.

“Prior to this decision, the trust’s Quality and Safety Committee had considered several staffing-related issues over a period of months which, considered in the round, presented a significant ongoing safety risk to patients which the trust was unable to mitigate in the short term.

“The board will be aware that the trust had undertaken numerous recruitment campaigns with little success. Given the increasing staffing pressures generally because of the pandemic and the need for staff to self-isolate, the situation was considered by the board and felt to no longer be sustainable.

“A full quality impact assessment has been undertaken and this confirmed that the safest option for our patients was to temporarily close the service and ensure their ongoing care needs could be met elsewhere.

“The trust is exploring how it can build and restore services in a safe way.

“The speed with which the decision was taken to protect patients did not provide time for a full and thorough options appraisal and or for consultation by commissioners with the public.

“We seek to rectify this by fully engaging with the community and key partners as part of our system Local Care Transformation Programme, overseen by commissioners, and through this programme engage on models of care that also have a focus on prevention and promoting good health and wellbeing.

This will begin during the winter and the resulting options appraisal published in the spring.

“During this time and since November 1, some of the staff from Bishop’s Castle Hospital are working alongside local GPs to put in place a model of care that will allow us to care for more people in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. We have also relocated the community physiotherapy clinic that has run from the hospital within the local area so that this service is not disrupted.”

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