Somerset Partnership Chairman Stephen Ladyman, and Chief Executive, Dr Nick Broughton:
“Since the Trust made the decision to implement this temporary closure we have closely monitored staffing levels across our community hospitals. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved and approximately 25% of our registered nursing posts remain vacant. We have also considered the feedback we have received from members of the public in Shepton Mallet and other key stakeholders. However we have not been able to identify any other options which would enable us to maintain patient safety across the countywide community hospital service with the limited nursing resource that we currently have at our disposal.
”We have regrettably concluded that the original decision taken by the Trust to consolidate beds across ten sites and therefore to temporarily close the beds at both Shepton Mallet and Chard should continue as planned. This closure is a temporary measure and that we will be working extremely hard to improve the staffing position across our community hospital service in order to reopen the beds as soon as possible.
“We do not envisage the beds re-opening before March 2018 but will be reviewing the position on a regular basis. We will be looking to undertake a formal review of the position at our February Board meeting if we have been unable to re-open the beds by that time.
“We are very grateful to all those who gave their views in our drop in sessions in Chard and Shepton Mallet, and at the Shepton League of Friends meeting last month. We will be planning further engagement with the local community so that we can hear how this temporary change is affecting local people and to ensure that the decision-makers at the February 2018 Board meeting are fully appraised of the public's views.
“We understand that this decision will come as a great disappointment to the local communities directly affected but it has not been taken lightly and has been made in order to maintain the safety of our wider service.”