Leaders from Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust have today assured members of the public they will give the delivery of the recruitment campaign their "best efforts" to try to reopen inpatient beds at the hospital.
It comes following a decision made at Shropcom's board meeting held on Thursday afternoon, where directors concluded it was not convinced enough had been done to try and fill vacancies at the town’s hospital.
Members voted unanimously to have one final attempt at filling vacant nursing and ancillary roles, but warned that if it was not successful they would serve notice to the county's NHS commissioners to withdraw from the inpatient service.
The board said it had heard and understood the strength of feeling among residents and campaigners, but has reiterated there must be enough nurses recruited to work on the rota for this service to maintain the quality of care and patient safety.
A workforce and recruitment plan is now in development for Bishop’s Castle with clear targets as to the numbers and type of staff to be recruited, the activity to be undertaken and the timeline for completion.
This plan is set to be approved at the next board meeting in October.
Patricia Davies, chief executive of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust said: “We thank local people and staff for their willingness to engage on this issue and the input and views they have shared.
"We have clearly heard the strength of local feeling and I want to assure people in and around Bishop’s Castle that we will give delivery of this plan our best efforts.
"If we can recruit enough staff, we will re-commence the inpatient service.
“However, if we are not successful, we cannot continue as we are.
"Therefore, the board agreed that if delivery of the workforce and recruitment plan does not achieve the staff numbers and type outlined in the plan, it will proceed with providing notice to NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin, the commissioner of the service change to withdraw from the inpatient service at Bishop’s Castle.
"The commissioned activity will be provided over the remaining three community hospital sites in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Whitchurch.
"In that scenario it would be for the NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin to determine what happens next with regards to the inpatient service at Bishop’s Castle.
"In the event that the trust is unable to recruit and re-commence the inpatient service we would seek to work with NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin to progress with withdrawing from the service and exploring other options as soon as practicably possible in the interests of both our staff and patients.
"I want to be clear that other services the trust provides at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital are not affected by this decision and will continue to be provided.”