Beds removed from Chard Hospital shock move

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INPATIENT beds in Chard will be moved to other local hospitals by the end of the month, the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation trust has announced to make sure enough staff are available for patients during winter.

Nursing staff will move with the hospital beds and then the inpatient ward will be temporarily closed. All other services provided at the community hospital, including the minor injury units and outpatient clinics, will remain in place and operate as usual.

SOMPAR say the move have been made necessary given the shortage of registered nurses across Somerset, and difficulty in recruiting new staff.

Beds in Shepton Mallet have also been removed.

Dr Nick Broughton, Chief Executive Officer, explained the decision and said:

“Somerset Partnership provides 222 community hospital beds spread out over 13 community hospitals. As we make our plans for an expected increase in patients over winter and review staffing levels, it has become clear that, with a quarter of our community hospital registered nursing posts vacant, our nursing workforce is spread far too thinly at the present time.

“Whilst we very much regret having to take this temporary action on the grounds of patient safety, we are anxious to avoid sudden closures. We will therefore be seeking to temporarily close our inpatient beds at Chard Community Hospital and Shepton Mallet Community Hospitals.”

Dr Nick Broughton added:

“I know this decision will cause concern to residents of Chard and Shepton Mallet and surrounding villages. I want to meet with the local public to explain this is a decision made in the best interests of patient safety and sustainable levels of staffing and to listen to their views about what we are doing.”

Drop in sessions will be arranged in Chard and Shepton Mallet on Friday, October 20th where SOMPAR will have senior staff on hand to discuss the decision.

By the end of October, the beds will move to other nearby community hospitals so that SOMPAR can consolidate staff on fewer sites and ensure they can keep 222 beds open over the winter period.

Dr Nick Broughton added:

“Over the days ahead our staff will be working closely with patients, patient families and carers to ensure that as many people as possible are able to complete their hospital stay prior to the beds moving.

“As always we are extremely proud of our dedicated workforce in community hospitals who continue to deliver high quality care against a backdrop of increasingly difficult nursing shortages.

“The decisions announced today will go some way to addressing these severe shortages of nurses by concentrating our staff onto fewer sites within larger teams. 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.”

These measures are temporary and SOMPAR will continue to work with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, partner organisations and our staff to keep the position under review and work towards re-opening the beds when staffing levels are secure.

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.

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