A combination of sickness absence and a shortage of registered nurses to ensure the safe care of patients will result in the temporary suspension of inpatient services at Bovey Tracey Community Hospital, with effect from Friday 18 December.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group have agreed to the temporary suspension this week. Both organisations stressed that the move is unrelated to plans for dealing with winter pressures.
The Trust has been working hard to recruit to a number of vacancies, and has managed to sustain services for a short while using bank and agency cover. However, the national shortage of registered nurses means the Trust is no longer able to sustain safe and high-quality services at Bovey Tracey Community Hospital, so inpatient beds will temporarily transfer to Templar Ward in Newton Abbot Hospital.
Jane Viner, Chief Nurse at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said: “Providing safe care to our patients is our absolute priority and, with this in mind, unfortunately we have had to take the decision to temporarily suspend the inpatient ward at Bovey Tracey. We have been working hard to recruit to unfilled nursing posts and to continue to provide a safe inpatient service, however we have now reached a point where it would be unsafe to continue to run the ward.
“No new patients are being admitted and we may need to move a small number of patients from Bovey Tracey to Templar ward at Newton Abbot Community Hospital. We would like to apologise for any distress and inconvenience to patients and their families. We would also like to reassure local people that anybody needing to receive inpatient care will continue to receive the same high quality care whilst Bovey Tracey is temporarily closed.
“We will continue our efforts to recruit staff to the unfilled posts but at this stage we are unable to say when we will be able to re-open the ward. We will carry on working with our commissioners to explore all avenues for re-instating the inpatient service”.
Staff who have been providing care at Bovey Tracey will be temporarily moving to Newton Abbot Hospital. All other community hospitals and service remain open as usual.
Dr Nick Roberts, Chief Clinical Officer, at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “While we are disappointed that this action has had to be taken, we absolutely agree with the Trust that patient safety has to be paramount. We recognise that the Trust has done everything it can to avoid reaching this stage. We have therefore agreed to temporarily relocate the beds to Newton Abbot, while efforts to reach safe and sustainable staffing levels continue.”