Chard and Shepton Mallet Community Hospital wards will remain closed at least until July. The board of Somerset Partnership, the NHS Trust that looks after a strange mix of mental health and community hospitals, held their May Board Meeting last week. One of the more interesting items on the agenda was the fate of the Community Hospital Wards at Chard Hospital and Shepton Mallet both of which have been closed since Autumn last year.
The continued closure is a direct result of Somerset Partnership proving unable to recruit sufficient nurses in order to staff the wards safely. More beds have been opened in other community hospitals around the county and Somerset Partnership state that the number of available beds has been maintained.
The situation is under review on a weekly basis by the Chief Executive and his team, however the Board Meeting concluded that although the recruitment situation was improving, the wards would not reopen until early July. And that is assuming that recruitment of nurses continues to improve.
Since the Francis Report into the deaths at Mid Staffs Hospital, there has been strict guidance on safe staffing levels. Whilst this may lead to improved safety for patients once they arrive in hospital, it has also resulted in ward closures that mean patients can no longer go to a hospital close to where they live.