Leaders call for Shropshire community hospital to re-open to ease pressure on the NHS

Leaders in south west Shropshire are calling for a community hospital to be re-opened to held ease bed pressures in the NHS.

Liberal Democrat Councillors, Heather Kidd, Nigel Hartin and Ruth Houghton from south west Shropshire
Liberal Democrat Councillors, Heather Kidd, Nigel Hartin and Ruth Houghton from south west Shropshire

Liberal Democrat councillors Heather Kidd, Nigel Hartin and Ruth Houghton think that government funding should be used to pay more for nurses at Bishop's Castle to attract staff to open it as a diagnostic centre.

This, they say, would alleviate pressures in Shrewsbury and Telford, save a lot of travel time for local residents and the 12 beds would release beds at the acute hospitals.

Councillor Ruth Houghton (Bishop's Castle) said: “The crisis in the NHS continues with ambulances queueing outside A and E departments, long ambulance response times to 999 calls and acute hospital beds occupied by patients who are deemed medically fit for discharge but who are unable to leave due to a lack of care home beds or domiciliary care to support them at home.

"This is at a time when here in Bishop’s Castle we have a hospital which has been standing empty for over 12 months with little sign of any progress on how it may be used in the future."

The community hospital in Bishop’s Castle closed unexpectedly in November 2021, and despite local councillors meeting with Shropshire NHS leaders they say there is still no clear plan to re-open the hospital or for alternative uses of the site .

Councillor Heather Kidd (Chirbury and Worthen), Liberal Democrat health spokesperson said : “We hear in the national news that the Government are seeking hotel beds to help ease the demand on NHS beds, but why do this when an empty and equipped hospital is available. We know that the NHS will say that they can’t recruit staff for the hospital but how will hotel beds be staffed?"

The Liberal Democrats add that more out patient services including podiatry, diabetic eye screening, audiology services, physiotherapy services, cancer screening services and a mobile MRI clinic could also be provided form the community hospital to both address waiting lists and provide a local service in South west Shropshire.

Councillor Houghton added: It is an appalling waste of a medical facility, to have it standing empty whilst the NHS is in crisis with people dying due to a lack of acute hospital beds or because an ambulance can’t reach them in time to save their life.”

A spokesperson for Shropshire Community Health Trust said the trust would be working with NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin (NHS STW) to "determine the longer-term plans for inpatient care at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital".

They added: "The hospital remains open to outpatient care, the rapid response team for Bishop’s Castle is also based at this site. The work of the rapid response team is having a positive impact on supporting the acute Trust and the system recognises that this approach needs to be expanded further.

"NHS STW have met with Liberal Democrat councillors Heather Kidd, Nigel Hartin and Ruth Houghton who have agreed to support two community engagement events in Bishop’s Castle on 1 March. These events form part of the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ‘Big health and wellbeing conversation’, with the objective of informing NHS STW’s Five- year joint forward plan.

"This plan will outline the commissioning intention for community services provided by Shropshire Community Health Trust."

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