It is a very real disappointment that the beds are be cut from our community hospital and the nursing staff will be deployed elsewhere.
I fear this decision has been coming for quite a while now, these decisions are not an act of God but a failing in planning and investment.
Shepton Community Hospital has not received the investment it deserves to upgrade the in-bed facilities, this despite a huge community appetite to see our local hospital grow and provide services that enhance the health and well being in our area. The NHS has failed to support many bids to improve our hospital.
There is absolutely no doubt that the staff at the hospital serve our community and are brilliant professionals. It is also clear that there is a staffing crisis in the NHS, with more people leaving than joining.
The government enforced pay cap has seen the pay packets of nurses thousands of pounds worse off in real terms, with dramatically increased workloads, and as the RCN says “leaving staff feeling demoralised and disillusioned”.
The abolition by this government of the bursaries for nursing training to be replaced by £9000 a year loans has seen dramatic falls in those entering the nursing profession, deterring the very sort of people who have the empathetic skills. It is estimated that nationally the NHS has 55000 fewer nurses than we need.
We are also losing some European staff from the NHS, this since our decision to leave the EU.
It is patently obvious to anyone that our acute hospitals are going to be stretched to breaking point this winter, we know that community care in Somerset is not capable of delivering the support that many people need, this due to a mixture of underfunding by national government in relent years and a failure of effective planning by Somerset county council.
There is a need for beds for some local people in our community hospital, and I fear without investment in buildings and staff, Shepton Mallet will forever lose these beds. The choice for people in our town is, are we going to except this? If you are not then we better say so and say so loudly.