Plans were announced in October by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust that 24 beds in community hospitals across Somerset would be moved temporarily to other locations. These included 10 beds in Shepton Mallet Community Hospital and 14 in Chard Community Hospital.
Dr Sara Nelson for Healthwatch Somerset said:
“We are aware that it has become necessary to close inpatient beds at both Chard and Shepton Mallet Community Hospitals. We have been informed that Somerset Partnership have been unable to recruit enough qualified nurses to staff the wards and that therefore, the temporary closure of these inpatient beds is due to concerns over patient safety.
Whilst we understand the safety reasons behind the temporary closure and we recognise the challenges the whole health system faces in the county, we are concerned about any effects that this may have on patients, their families and unpaid carers. We know that patients value the experience of being treated as close to home as possible as this allows them to stay in contact with their families and other close support networks.
We would also like to see a written plan outlining when these beds will be reopening and a real commitment to this date. If a decision was made to close these beds permanently a full public consultation would have to take place. Healthwatch Somerset are here to listen to the voices of local people on health and social care, therefore, we would welcome feedback from local people about being treated in alternative hospitals.
We’d like to hear from people about how this affects their experiences of travelling to hospital either as a patient or a visitor. We will share this anonymised information with commissioners and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.”
People can leave their feedback with Healthwatch Somerset by calling 01278 264405 or emailing email@example.com.