HEALTH bosses say they ‘feel close’ to re-opening the inpatient unit at a community hospital for the first time in over two years, thanks to a 'targeted recruitment campaign'.

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom) had considered withdrawing from running the 16-bed inpatient unit at Bishop's Castle Community Hospital, which had been closed since October 2021.

But following a protest from the Save Our Beds campaign the trust decided to expand services at the community hospital and implement a ‘targeted recruitment campaign' to recruit the two additional members of staff needed to safely reopen.

The future of the unit will be discussed at ShropCom's April meeting.

Clair Hobbs, director of nursing, clinical delivery and workforce, said that there were further walk-in recruitment events planned in February and March.

“We are just three full time equivalent registered nurses short of being a full establishment,” Mrs Hobbs said. “Having renewed the safer staffing figures, we can open after getting two more whole time equivalent registered nurses in," said Clair Hobbs, director of nursing, clinical delivery and workforce, adding that further walk-in recruitment events are planned in February and March.

Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital also has vacancies for a physiotherapist, a domestic, ward clerk and occupational therapist.

Tina Long, acting chair added: “A huge thank you to the local community who have pulled out all the stops.

“The Save Our Beds campaign and everybody else has worked wonders on this. We couldn’t have done it on our own. It has been an amazing collective effort.”

Harmesh Darbhanga, non-executive director, added: “I would like to see a really good result in April where we can make that positive decision to re-open the beds at Bishop’s Castle.

“Residents of Bishop’s Castle are anxious to have those beds because there are patients ready to go in them.”

Patricia Davies, chief executive, feels that ShropCom should continue their recruitment drive after April's decision is made: “We feel close, but it’s not close enough. We’ve had some really positive outputs from the recruitment events.

“If we’ve got the numbers then we can make a definitive decision in April. But actually we’re that close that we might want to keep that push going.

“But also thinking of succession planning as well because a A lot of the individuals that have been recruited are people who have come out of retirement. We have to be mindful of the long-term sustainability as well.It’s a really positive step forward.”

Mrs Davies added that ShropCom provide a ‘huge range’ of services within South-West Shropshire.

“This is about how do we bring all that together and use that site as a beating heart, a hub, for the delivery of those services.

“We’ve also had charities interested in delivering services from that site. It’s thinking about a health care and community hub.”