Shropshire's Bishop's Castle promise to 'bite back' if beds at Community Hospital don't reopen

The outside of the hospital
Inpatient services at Bishop's Castle Hospital have been closed since October 2021

The Board that runs Bishop's Castle Community Hospital in Shropshire will decide today whether the inpatient services will reopen.

The 16 beds closed with two weeks' notice in October 2021, in what was said to be a 'temporary move.'

A meeting at 3pm this afternoon, Thursday 7 September, will decide whether they will reopen.

One of the campaign posters that can be seen in Bishop's Castle Credit: ITV News Central

Locals say they need the beds to reopen as the rural nature of where they live, and the lack of public transport makes it too hard to visit other hospitals in the county.

They also say that people need to be treated where they can have regular visitors.

Ruth Coxhall used to work at the hospital and stayed there for rehabilitation after treatment in Telford at the end of 2020.

Her son Bernard Edwards says she received great care and was able to recover, but was 'let down' by the Trust when the hospital was closed when she needed it at the end of her life.

Ruth Coxhall and her son Bernard Edwards Credit: Bernard Edwards

He told ITV News Central: "What she really needed for her end-of-life care is a local hospital that would have looked after her in the manner that she would have expected because she had in her request, her wish list that she didn't go to a major hospital but she would happily go to Stone House [the hospital's local name].

"So when the time came of her need, in the last weeks of her life it was very difficult, there was no hospital, it had been closed."

Cllr Heather Kidd from Shropshire Council said many others have been impacted by the closure too.

Speaking to ITV News Central she said one of the people she represents had deteriorated quicker because her family weren't able to visit regularly.

She said: "I had a resident fairly recently whose mother had to be on a 90-mile round trip to Whitchurch, which means going to visit was really really difficult and she was suffering from dementia and so gradually she lost all the knowledge of them because they couldn't be there as much as if she were here.

"There are all sorts of issues like that that make it really important that we have all of the services on the doorstep."

Those campaigning also say that this is more than just a local issue. Deputy Mayor Andy Stelman said: "We need to make a contribution to the NHS generically and by saving the beds we are freeing 16 beds, at the moment, that are being occupied by people at acute hospitals who don't need to occupy them because their treatment is finished but they can't go home because there isn't a care plan for them."

He also said that if the Trust chose to close services at the hospital then "Bishop's Castle will bite back."

A 'bed push' was held to raise money and awareness

These reasons are why the locals have been campaigning hard to persuade the Trust to reopen the beds. 

Last month they held a protest, and then a 'bed push' through the town and local villages to raise both money and awareness. Campaigners say the strength of public feeling is why the Trust delayed the decision from Thursday 3 August to today. 

The Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust wouldn't be interviewed on the story, saying staff were too busy with patient care, but gave a statement saying:

"The Trust has engaged with the public over the last two months on the decision it is planning to make on 7th September with regard to its provision of the Inpatient Service at Bishop's Castle. 

"It would not be appropriate to provide further comment at this stage as we await the Board decision."

The meeting is being held at 3pm and campaigners are planning to wear yellow in "silent protest."

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