More specialist stroke beds will be available in Somerset’s community hospitals to help meet a growing demand.
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has announced it will be temporarily opening five additional stroke beds.
These will be at the trust’s two specialist stroke units at Williton Community Hospital and South Petherton Community Hospital.
The additional beds will help provide care for the rising numbers of stroke patients who require this specialised community rehabilitation.
To support the arrangement of staffing these additional stroke beds, the trust has decided to pause plans to reopen the beds at Wellington Community Hospital.
The beds at Wellington were temporarily closed early in August to allow for essential repair works to take place.
Outpatient clinics at Wellington hospital will continue as normal.
Andy Heron, chief operating officer for community services, mental health and learning disabilities at Somerset Partnership, said: “Over the past few months it has become clear that there is a real and pressing clinical need for more stroke beds in the community to help support our acute hospitals and patients.
“Being able to provide specialist rehabilitation quickly to anyone who has suffered a stroke in Somerset is incredibly important and that is why we have decided to open five more community beds.
“This will not only help to speed up discharge for patients well enough to leave the acute hospitals particularly as we prepare for another busy winter, but also will help provide that extra bit of hospital care and rehabilitation those patients may need.
“In order for us to safely staff the additional beds, we have decided we need to temporarily keep Wellington Community Hospital closed and use our existing nursing staff across our specialist stroke sites.
“It is no secret that like many trusts across the country we have challenging staffing levels and this decision not only protects patient safety but supports our existing staff.
“We will be carrying out a review over the next few weeks to assess the staffing situation and to consider any further action that may be needed.
“We will look to engage with any communities affected by the temporary changes as part of the review.
“We will also look to gather views from the community on the continued staffing challenges we face and we will invite people to have their say.
“I would like to thank our staff, patients and the community for their continued support.”