Shropshire Star

Public meeting marks end of engagement on inpatient beds at Bishop's Castle Community Hospital

Healthcare officials have assured residents they are committed to improving recruitment and retention against a backdrop of inpatient beds remaining closed at Bishop's Castle Community Hospital.

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Residents of Bishop’s Castle marched in support of their campaign

In the final public engagement session between Bishop's Castle residents and Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) over the closure of inpatient beds at the community hospital, officials assured residents that they were committed to recruiting more staff.

The online meeting between Shropcom officials and around 30 Bishop's Castle residents took place on Tuesday evening.

It marked the end of an extended consultation looking into the future of the Bishop's Castle hospital beds before a final decision is announced in September.

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

Last month, Shropcom commissioned an independent review to consider whether it had done enough to recruit staff to fill gaps.

In Tuesday's meeting, trust officials highlighted recruitment and funding issues across the country as well as the challenges of recruitment in rural areas such as finding affordable accommodation for healthcare staff.

Chief executive Patricia Davies said changes have already been made to help recruitment and retention, including more flexibility around shifts for staff.

When concerns were raised about the rate of pay for healthcare workers, Ms Davies said she wished she could "double people's salaries".

"We are limited in what we can do in terms of pay," Ms Davies said. "I welcome the NHS England 15-year plan for staffing, but what didn't come out alongside that was a 15-year-plan around appropriate pay structure.

"We are limited in terms of what we can do around pay because pay is a matter of Government. I do think the Government need to think long and hard about that.

"We can offer in the community a lot more in terms of training development - that is something that we're very committed at looking at. Not just within our organisation, but across organisations with SaTH and others that can make jobs more attractive."

A final decision is expected to be announced at a meeting in Bishop’s Castle on September 7.