Fresh hope for rural Community Hospital in Shropshire as recruitment drive promised

Sign from the Bishop's Castle meeting

There's fresh hope for locals in Bishop's Castle that the inpatient beds in their Community Hospital will reopen.

The 16 beds there have been closed temporarily since October 2021.

At a meeting yesterday the Board of the Shropshire Community Health and NHS Trust that runs the site said that they would try one more round of recruitment before they decide on the future of the inpatient service.

They closed the beds almost two years ago because of staffing issues, saying that there was a 70% vacancy rate of registered nurses at the time, and in the six months before closure more than half of shifts were covered by agency staff.

But at the meeting, the Board said that there wasn't enough evidence that they had done enough to try and recruit more staff and that one final recruitment drive would be made before a permanent decision was made.

The Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust Board meeting was held in public in Bishop's Castle

Locals have welcomed this as "the best outcome from the options on the table" and told ITV News Central that they are "cautiously optimistic". They have pledged to work with the Trust to make recruitment successful.

The Trust runs community services, commissioned by the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care Board across the county. They said that if they cannot recruit enough staff then they will deliver the inpatient services they are commissioned to do across the three other inpatient Community Hospitals in the county. This is currently what is happening.

The ICB told ITV News Central that they "remain committed to delivering health and care services that meet the needs of the local population of Bishop’s Castle" and that "the current NHS provider [Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust] is best placed to find solutions to support the delivery of community care across the geography of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin."