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Ward at Amersham Hospital to close temporarily due to shortage of nurses and therapists

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Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has taken the decision to temporarily close one of its community wards at Amersham Hospital to ensure that it can continue to keep its patients safe.

Whilst the Trust received a Good rating following a recent inspection, with Outstanding for Caring, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has imposed conditions regarding staffing levels in its community inpatient wards. The Trust cannot meet these conditions due to a shortage of nurses and therapists.

In order to ensure the best possible care for our communities, the Trust has consulted with Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Health and Social Care Select Committee (HASC) and Buckinghamshire County Council, and has taken the decision to temporarily stop admitting new patients to the 22 bed Chartridge Ward in Amersham Hospital from Monday 1st July 2019. Existing patients will remain there until it is safe for them to be discharged and return home.

Staff from Chartridge Ward will move to work in the other two inpatient wards at Amersham, enhancing care for the patients on those wards and helping them to return home and back to independence as soon as possible.

From Monday 1st July 2019, patients requiring inpatient rehabilitation will be supported either on our therapy led unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, referred to Buckingham Community Hospital or the Waterside Ward at Amersham Hospital. Nobody will be transferred to a hospital outside of Buckinghamshire because of the temporary closure unless they have asked for this to happen.

Commenting on the decision, Neil Macdonald, CEO of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said: ‘We are disappointed that we need to temporarily close Chartridge Ward but the ongoing safety of our patients and staff is our main priority.

By concentrating our staff across two wards instead of three, we will be able to ensure safe staffing at all times and provide a better experience for our patients. This will include additional therapy, helping people to recover faster and continue their rehabilitation in the comfort of their own homes.

We are committed to Amersham as one of the Trust’s main hospitals in the county. It provides a vital service to the local community and additional outpatient clinics are scheduled to begin welcoming new patients this summer.

Lou Patten, Chief Executive Officer for Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, added: ‘The challenge of maintaining sustainable, safe levels of staffing for inpatient community services is currently proving very tough in Buckinghamshire.

Our county has high living costs and yet misses London salary allowances – this makes nursing vacancies less attractive than in other surrounding areas.

We will be working closely with the Trust, other health and care social partners and the local community to look at the options for Chartridge Ward to find the best sustainable solutions.

Councillor Mike Appleyard, a member of HASC, said: ‘We are disappointed that this decision has had to be taken, but fully understand the reasons behind it. Our local community can rest assured that HASC will be keeping in close contact with the Trust regarding this temporary change to inpatient services and will seek to ensure high standards of patient care remain a priority and are not compromised. We will also look carefully at the way the Trust deals with new clients requiring community care.

The decision to temporarily close Chartridge Ward will be reviewed in November 2019.

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