Shropshire Star

Health chiefs ‘close’ to reopening inpatient ward at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital

Health bosses say they ‘feel close’ to reopening the inpatient unit at a community hospital for the first time in over two years.

Bishop's Castle Community Hospital

The 16-bed inpatient unit at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital has been closed since October 2021 due to a struggle recruiting the amount of staff needed to run the service safely.

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom) considered withdrawing from running the inpatient service in September.

However, following a protest from the Save Our Beds campaign, the trust decided to expand services at the community hospital and implement a ‘targeted recruitment campaign’ for inpatient services.

The inpatient service needs to recruit two more members of staff to safely reopen.

ShropCom will discuss the future of the inpatient unit and the next steps required at their meeting in April.

Clair Hobbs, director of nursing, clinical delivery and workforce, said that there were further walk-in recruitment events planned on Saturdays in February and March.

“It’s phenomenal really, we are just three whole time equivalent registered nurses short of being a full establishment,” Mrs Hobbs said.

“Having renewed the safer staffing figures and what the rota would look like, we can open after getting two more whole time equivalent registered nurses in.”

Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital also has vacancies for a physiotherapist, a domestic, ward clerk and occupational therapist.

Tina Long, acting chair added: “A huge thank you to the local community who have pulled out all the stops.

“The Save Our Beds campaign and everybody else has worked wonders on this. We couldn’t have done it on our own. We tried to do it on our own. It has been an amazing collective effort.”

Harmesh Darbhanga, non-executive director, asked if there was anything that could ‘derail’ the campaign by April.

He said: “At the moment we are giving some very positive vibes and I’d like to keep that momentum going.

“I would like to see a really good result in April where we can make that positive decision to reopen the beds at Bishop’s Castle with all the additional work that we’re undertaking.

“Residents of Bishop’s Castle are anxious to have those beds because there are patients ready to go in them.”

Chief executive Patricia Davies said ShropCom should keep its recruitment drive going after it makes a decision in April.

She added: “We feel close, but it’s not close enough. We’ve had some really positive outputs from the recruitment events.

“If we’ve got the numbers then we can make a definitive decision in April. But actually we’re that close that we might want to keep that push going.

“I think we should keep the push going. There’s a wider model of care that we need to recruit to as well.

“But also thinking of succession planning as well, because a lot of the individuals that have been recruited are people who have come out of retirement.

“We have to be mindful of the long-term sustainability as well. It’s a really positive step forward.”

Mrs Davies added that ShropCom provides a ‘huge range’ of services within South-West Shropshire.

“This is about how do we bring all that together and use that site as a beating heart, a hub, for the delivery of those services,” she added.

“We’ve also had charities interested in delivering services from that site. It’s thinking about a health care and community hub.”