THE trust running Musgrove Park and Yeovil hospitals has increased the number of medical beds to cope with increasing numbers of patients needing NHS care during winter months.

The move by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has been made possible by admitting patients into fewer surgical beds, partly enabled by more day surgery and use of the Hospital@Home service.

Sheppard, a former gastroenterology ward in Musgrove's Queen's Building, has been converted to care for medical patients.

Following its opening, ward manager Mayur Naik said: “All of our colleagues are excited and well-motivated to look after our patients in this fabulous new environment.

“They love the new layout and the brightness on the ward, and feel it’s much easier for them to look after patients with the right resources and equipment.”

Wills Pinto, a matron covering Sheppard, said: "The opening of Sheppard ward to care for medical patients is hugely positive for everyone, especially our medical service group, as we’re much more likely to be able to care for patients on the right ward to meet their needs.

"The timing couldn't be better, as the additional beds will allow us to meet the increased demand over winter."

This change of use at Sheppard should ensure patients are cared for in the right bed for their medical need, so they get the right care sooner, helping them to get home quicker.

Dr James Gagg, associate medical director for the medical services group at Somerset FT, said:

"The high level of pressures we see each winter often relate to high bed occupancy in hospitals and the challenges in discharging patients into social care.

“Over the last year, we’ve done a huge amount of work to address this by using local data and working together with teams across the organisation.

“We worked to identify how many inpatient beds we needed to maintain a bed occupancy of 92 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

"This has led to a change in the split of how beds are distributed between our medical and surgical service groups.

“Many of the changes were made in September when we reorganised our inpatient wards, and the reopening of Sheppard ward is the next step to increasing our bed capacity within medicine to meet the increasing demand.

“The impact is not only on our medical patients though, as by reducing the number of medical patients who need to stay on surgical wards, it helps our surgical teams to continue focusing on the reducing waiting times after the pandemic.”