THE inpatient ward at a community hospital has been reopened after being closed for a year.

The ward at Wellington Community Hospital was closed last summer for essential repairs, but staffing shortages meant the ward was not able to reopen once the work was completed.

The rest of the hospital remained opened and fully functional.

One year on, the ward has been reopened following a successful recruitment drive.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has successfully recruited a ward sister, four staff nurses and four healthcare assistants, with more on the way.

A range of community services have also been put in place in the Wellington area to help care for patients at home where possible.

New ward sister Melissa Saunders said she was honoured to lead the team of nurses at the hospital.

“I’m really excited to have been given this opportunity to reopen the ward at Wellington Hospital," she said.

“We’ve been busy behind the scenes getting the ward ready and I’m confident that our team of nurses will give our patients the best possible care.

“I have worked for the NHS for 19 years in various clinical roles and have always found it to be very supportive. I found it so rewarding to be able to look after patients and that’s the best thing about the job.”

Martine Thurtle, vice chair of the Wellington Hospital League of Friends, said: “To have our inpatient beds open is very good news indeed. We are absolutely delighted to know that our community hospital is once again full functioning.”

Since the temporary closure, Somerset Partnership has developed a better range of community services that have directly supported the Wellington community by helping patients remain in their own homes, which the trust says is where they prefer to be.

During this time a rapid response service was set up across Somerset to care for older, frail patients at home instead of being admitted to hospital. It has helped more than 30 patients from Wellington and the surrounding area so far.

The Somerset HomeFirst service, which is run jointly with the district general and community hospitals and the county council’s adult social services, has also been working to help patients get home more quickly from hospital where recovery is better and faster.

So far it has helped almost 100 patients from the Wellington area get home from Musgrove Park Hospital faster without the need for a stay in a community hospital bed.

Other community services that are helping Wellington patients include our district nurses and integrated rehab teams who have typically support more than 1,000 patients at home at any one time.

The intensive dementia support service also provides care to patients in the Wellington area who have a diagnosis of dementia and/or are displaying challenging behaviours and would have otherwise been admitted to an inpatient unit.