Wellington Community Hospital ward set to reopen

Wellington Community Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption The inpatient wards at Wellington Community Hospital will open in September

An town's inpatient ward is to reopen but the future of two other Somerset wards will be considered in the autumn.

The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been struggling to recruit nurses to ensure safe staffing levels at the county's 13 community hospitals.

Chard and Dene Barton's inpatient wards shut in 2017 but will now be reviewed to see if they are needed for winter.

Wellington Community Hospital's ward reopens in September after six new staff were recruited.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said Phil Brice, the trust's director of governance and corporate development, broke the news to members of Somerset County Council's adults and health scrutiny committee at a meeting in Taunton on Wednesday.

'Difficult to recruit'

He said addressing closures had been "a slow process" in light of the continuing struggle to recruit and retain staff in the hospitals' predominantly rural locations.

He said: "Somerset suffers from not having its own university, so we rely on Bristol, Plymouth and elsewhere.

"It's not the most attractive place for young nurses starting their career."

Dene Barton hospital has seen increased outpatient use since September 2018, when physiotherapy services were transferred there from Musgrove Park Hospital - an arrangement which Mr Brice said was "working well" and would remain in place until March 2020.

"We'll have another look at Chard in September, but it's fair to say we are a distance away from reopening that.

"The vacancy rate at Chard is around 50 per cent - nurses have moved away to take different roles," he added.

Councillor Andrew Govier said he was "delighted" about Wellington hospital, but said the long-term future of community hospitals needed to be laid out.

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