Shropshire Star

Confirmed: When community hospital's much-missed inpatient unit will start welcoming patients again

The in-patient unit at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital is on course to re-open in mid-July, a health trust has now confirmed.

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Clinical staff will return to the unit at the start of July ahead of a two-week recommissioning process, before an initial 16 patients are accepted a fortnight later in a phased approach starting on July 15.

In April, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust delighted campaigners by confirming that the ward, which had been closed for two years, would be re-opened following a successful staff recruitment campaign.

The trust had declined to confirm that the service was due to officially start accepting patients in mid July despite briefing staff and community groups.

But papers put before the trust’s board meeting on Thursday confirmed that the planned mobilisation at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital (BCCH) was on track.

A number of task and finish groups are now meeting on a weekly basis to ensure facilities are recommissioned on time, a report presented to the meeting said.

“In April’s trust board it was agreed that staffing had met the safe threshold, so in line with the decision made at September’s, the board agreed that the inpatient beds at BCCH were to re-open,” it said.

“The current timescales that the delivery group has briefed the task and finish groups to work towards is July 2024. July 1 2024 is when the in-patient area will bring its clinical and support team on site and begin working together to ready the area to receive patients. July 15 2024 is when patients will start to be transferred in a phased approach into the beds.

“All of the task and finish groups are currently on track and completing their milestone actions within the detailed project plan guidelines.”

Meanwhile, trust chief executive Patricia Davies told the meeting the community hospital in Bishop’s Castle would now play a wider role in delivering rural care in south Shropshire, with a number of partner organisations already running services from the site.

Wellbeing drop-in sessions are being held at the hospital and a social proscribing community network started meeting at the site in May.

“I think that’s quite phenomenal actually in terms of that whole working group for Bishop’s Castle which includes the community and wider networks, so it really is starting to become a rural health and care hub for that community radiating out into some of the other areas too,” she said.

“You’ll see that the ICB-led rural health strategy task and finish group, of which our rural-led champion Jill [Barker] is a part of, now meets at that place too so again using Bishop’s Castle and the south-west as a platform for looking at wider rural health issues not just in the south west of our county... but hopefully the learning from that will radiate out into the wider rural communities of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.”