Anger at prospect beds could never return to Shropshire hospital as public meeting is called
The potential permanent closure of beds at a Shropshire community hospital has been met with anger by residents, patients and councillors.
Shropshire Community Hospital Trust (ShropCom) has said there is "no reasonable prospect" of being able to safely reopen the community hospital beds at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital, citing staff recruitment as the major issue.
The 16-bed hospital was temporarily closed in October 2021.
Protestors say it is potentially devastating news for rural community where access to alternative sources of health care is difficult and public transport is poor.
Local councillors Heather Kidd, Ruth Houghton and Nigel Hartin have arranged a public meeting at the Bishop's Castle Community College School Hall to discuss the future of the hospital.
Representatives from the Integrated Care Board, Shropshire Community Hospital Trust (ShropCom) and Healthwatch Shropshire, have been invited the the meeting which starts at 7pm on Monday, June 5.
The councillors say it is the second time ShropCom has tried to close the hospital without a public consultation.
Ruth Houghton, Shropshire Councillor for the town said: “It seems that consultation started on May 22nd but there was no notification to those they are consulting with until May 25. Even now there are no details as to how to take part in it.
“This is potentially devastating news for rural community where access to alternative sources of health care is difficult and public transport is poor."
Councillor Heather Kidd, Shropshire Councillor for Chirbury and Worthen Division, said “We had an excellent Hospital in Bishops Castle delivering a quality service to local residents. It’s pretty obvious the trust want to close the hospital come what may. Already they have tried but had to backtrack as they failed to consult properly.
“People from our very rural area are now forced to take up Community Hospital beds in Whitchurch and Ludlow."
Nigel Hartin, Councillor for Clun Division, said: “Recruitment is much easier when you have a vision for the hospital and are innovative about its use. I asked for this, and they never thought one through. Who would apply for a job in a hospital under threat. They only tried to recruit locally once. Very poor.”
Ruth Houghton concluded: “This proposed closure would cut much needed quality employment from the town and surrounding rural areas. It is such a blow for those who loved working here and have now been transferred to Ludlow.”
Since the beds closed in 2021 ShropCom says patients have been cared for at home or at Ludlow Cottage Hospital.
Announcing the possibility of relinquishing the contract with the NHS Telford and Wrekin to provide an inpatient service at Bishop's Castle.
Clair Hobbs, director of nursing and workforce for ShropCom, said: "Shropshire Community Health Trust can confirm it has concluded there is no reasonable prospect, at present, of the trust being able to safely reopen the community hospital beds at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital. And whilst this is disappointing news it is the right conclusion on safety grounds.
"Recruitment has been a problem for several years, and despite considerable time and efforts, we have been unable to secure the right level of staff to deliver safe, high-quality care to patients."