HEALTH bosses say there are ‘absolutely no plans to close Minehead Hospital’, but three beds will be temporarily lost.

Dr Andrew Dayani, of the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the closure of the beds was necessary to ensure there were correct staffing numbers on the wards as recommended by the Government.

The Trust had trouble recruiting nurses, said Dr Dayani.

It is now investing £1.3million into services to help recruit new nurses, but the shortage will mean a temporary closure of beds across Somerset’s 13 community hospitals – the Trust has not said how long for.

Last week, the County Gazette reported how the long-term future of Minehead Hospital was in doubt as the Trust looks to save money and bring care ‘closer to home’.

But Dr Dayani added: “I can confirm that as a Trust, Somerset Partnership has absolutely no plans to close Minehead Hospital.

“There is clear evidence that directly links staffing levels on the wards to the quality of care provided and improves outcomes for patients.

“The extra funding will allow us to increase the number of registered nurses so that we have a consistent level of staffing.

“However, to make these changes, and make the staffing ratio as efficient as possible, a number of beds in community hospitals and mental health wards will be closed on a temporary basis.”

Bryan Leaker, who led a successful campaign to reopen Minehead’s Minor Injury Unit, said: “It’s great news that Minehead Hospital isn’t closing.

“In the summer there is lower capacity of the beds being used; it’s worse in the winter.

“The Trust has also assured me that should we need to, Williton can also be used if Minehead was to overspill.

“The have begun their recruitment process and they now should hopefully have enough time to recruit more nurses in time for winter.”