A HEALTHCARE chief has promised that they ‘absolutely understand’ and ‘feel the passion’ that people in Bishop’s Castle have shown over the town’s care provision.

The Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) is due to make a decision next month about their inpatient bed service in the Shropshire town.

Inpatient beds at Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital were ‘temporarily closed’ in October 2021 due to staffing shortages and safety concerns.

An extended consultation looking into the future of the beds will end next week before a final decision is announced at a meeting in Bishop’s Castle on September 7.

Shropcom chief executive Patricia Davies said that the consultation had received over 800 responses online and over 100 responses face-to-face.

Paper surveys are currently being collated and there has also been participation from the community in focus groups.

Last week hundreds of people marched through Bishop’s Castle calling for Shropcom to reopen the inpatient beds and the town council handed over a petition.

“We’ve had a fantastic response to the engagement and we absolutely understand and feel the passion that people have for healthcare services," Mrs Davies said.

She said the consultation phase had been extended to ‘gather more data’ after concerns were raised that the health body had not done enough to recruit registered nurses to re-open the beds.

Shropcom has commissioned a report assessing their recruitment over the last 18 months and whether anything more could have been done.

The report will also assess the labour market for registered nurses to work in the area.

Shropcom held a private meeting at Ludlow Hospital last month to discuss community hospital beds.

Peter Featherstone, resource and performance committee chair, provided an update at the Shropcom monthly board meeting.

He said: “It went fairly well. At the time we had just started some of the sessions over at Bishop’s Castle so we got some feedback from there.

“It was my first visit to Ludlow and I was quite mindful of the state of the building and the work that’s going on there.

“It really brought home to me, when we talk about life of buildings and the next steps in our plans for Ludlow.

“It will be interesting at some point for us to have another session about Ludlow and our options going forward.”