Better pay for nurses at Shropshire’s community hospitals is being called for to help address the staffing crisis that has led to one ward being threatened with permanent closure.

Campaigners put the plea to health bosses at a public meeting in Bishop’s Castle in June, saying the responsibility shouldered by nurses at rural hospitals, where there is often no doctor present, was not reflected in the current pay offer.

The meeting was called by councillors after the announcement from Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom) late last month that there was no prospect of re-opening the 16 inpatient beds at the town’s hospital, which have been closed since November 2021.

The trust is carrying out public engagement and a final decision will be made at a meeting of its board of directors on August 3.

Clair Hobbs, director of nursing and workforce at ShropCom, said the struggle to recruit registered nurses is being felt across the trust, which currently has over 100 nursing vacancies.

Ms Hobbs said 60 per cent of nursing posts were vacant at Bishop’s Castle, leaving no option but to close due to safety concerns.

She said: “Our staff were struggling. They were doing a day shift and staying on because agency workers hadn’t turned up and doing a night shift as well.”

Ms Hobbs said the trust was undertaking overseas recruitment and offering trainee positions.

Claire Skidmore, deputy chief executive at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, said she did not believe another provider would be able to overcome the staffing issues and that commissioners would take a detailed look at the services that could be offered after the August 3 decision.

Editor's note: We previously said Ms Skidmore had said she believed that another provider would be able to overcome staffing issues at Bishop's Castle Community Hospital.
We would like to confirm that Ms Skidmore in fact said that she did not believe another provider would be able to overcome the staffing issues.