Twenty four community hospital beds, 10 in Shepton Mallet and 14 in Chard, will be moved to other local hospitals by the end of October 2017, to make sure enough staff are available for patients during winter. Nursing staff will move with the hospital beds and then the two inpatient wards will be temporarily closed. The moves have been made necessary given the shortage of registered nurses across Somerset, and difficulty in recruiting new staff.
Dr Nick Broughton, Chief Executive Officer, explained the decision and noted that “Whilst we will continue to do everything possible to recruit more nurses and monitor the situation closely, it is difficult to envisage re-opening these beds before March 2018.”
All other services provided at each community hospital, including the minor injury units and outpatient clinics, will remain in place and operate as usual.
Somerset Partnership provides 222 community hospital beds spread out over 13 community hospitals. Plans for an expected increase in patients over winter and a review of staffing levels, made it clear that, with a quarter of community hospital registered nursing posts vacant, the nursing workforce was spread far too thinly.