In community discussions led by GPs, councillors and volunteer groups, calls have been made for Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust to reopen the vacant wards as a means to ease the current pressure on acute services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.
There is no suggestion that the wards be used for Covid-19 patients, but instead be readied to be able to care for other patients being discharged for step down or rehabilitation care.
Former health minister Mr Dunne said: “The community in Ludlow is pulling together magnificently, as indeed it is across all of South Shropshire and the entire country.
"We need to do whatever we can to support our NHS at this crucial time, and the collective view of those representing Ludlow is that we should prepare to reopen Ludlow Hospital wards to alleviate pressure on acute services dealing with those affected by coronavirus. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance we can to the NHS in Shropshire to make this happen.
"I have been contacted by existing and retired clinicians who are seeking to offer their services to help provide the extra resource called for by the NHS. Some of these may be able to help with the staffing challenge for nurses and doctors to provide a safe patient experience if capacity is increased in our community hospitals.
"There are empty wards at Ludlow, but additional capacity could also be created at the other community hospitals in Bishop’s Castle, Bridgnorth and Burford and some of the care homes across the county.”
GPs from Ludlow medical practices have been among those to support the call.
Dr Catherine Beanland, Portcullis Surgery, said: "For many decades community hospitals provided a wide range of services including outpatient consultations in major specialties such as child health or maternity services.
"Covid-19 is not going to go away anytime soon and social distancing for vulnerable people will probably need to continue for many months.
"It makes no sense to me to send vulnerable people such as cancer patients to outpatient appointments at the Shrewsbury or Telford hospitals which will be potentially heaving with ill patients with the virus. Send them for their treatments to the community hospitals. We need to keep the high risk vulnerable patients away from the acute hospitals."
Those calling for the reopening of the wards include Mr Dunne, the Shropshire Councillors for Ludlow and Clee, Ludlow Town Council, the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital and volunteer group Pulling Together Ludlow.
The group has laid out its declaration, stating: "We are ready to explore and support increased care provision in Ludlow Community Hospital. We are willing to explore all options that will help to alleviate the pressure on our acute hospitals, including supporting increased provision of secondary care services as required or appropriate."