The number of beds at West Mendip Hospital in Glastonbury is being increased to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is “consolidating” its community hospitals beds onto fewer sites, including West Mendip, to ensure they can be properly and safely staffed.
The CCG is also working with Somerset County Council and care providers to secure more care beds and bring old care homes back into use.
However, there are currently no plans to reopen the Yeovil inpatient ward run by St Margaret’s Hospice, which closed down in late-2019.
The CCG confirmed today (April 1) that beds at Shepton Mallet and Wellington community hospitals would be freed up by closing inpatient wards, with the beds being transported to other sites in the county.
A spokeswoman said: “We are temporarily consolidating the beds in our community hospitals onto fewer hospital sites, which will enable us to open more beds with a smaller number of colleagues overall.
“This is important at a time when we anticipate increased illness among colleagues and difficulty in attracting temporary staff.
“We have already temporarily closed the eight inpatient beds at Shepton Mallet Community Hospital. We will also be temporarily closing the ten inpatient beds at Wellington Community Hospital.
“We will be temporarily increasing the beds at five other community hospitals, including Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead, West Mendip in Glastonbury, Williton and Wincanton.
“The NHS nationally has struck a deal with the independent sector to increase the number of beds, and that includes the treatment centre in Shepton Mallet.”
Chard Community Hospital’s inpatient ward has been subject to a temporary closure since October 2017 due to staffing levels. Shepton Mallet closed around the same time before reopening in July 2018.
The CCG has stressed that the closures at Shepton Mallet and Wellington are strictly in response to the coronavirus, and will be reversed as soon as the crisis has abated.
A spokeswoman said: “These changes are solely in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and are temporary.
“They are being made so that we can care for as many people as possible who may need our support during the Covid-19 outbreak.”