THE inpatient ward at Wellington Hospital is set to stay closed after it was shut for urgent repairs.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has announced its intention to 'pause' the reopening of the ward as it plans to make other beds available elsewhere in Somerset.

Five addition stroke beds are set to open to cope with the growing demand in community hospitals.

The beds will be located on the specialist stroke units at Williton Community Hospital and South Petherton Community Hospital.

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."

To staff the addition beds, the trust has decided to leave the inpatient ward in Wellington closed for now amid 'challenging' times for recruitment.

The ward was closed in August while repair works took place but he outpatient clinic is open as normal.

Mr Heron added: “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.”