Published: 00:01, 31 May 2014
NHS bosses have moved to quash rumours that the closed ward at Sheppey Community Hospital will be shut permanently.
They have reassured Islanders they do plan to reopen Minster ward at the site in Plover Road, Minster, although at the moment it does remain out of use.
Patients were moved into the remaining 24-bed Harty ward in mid-April due to staff shortages.
In April, we reported how Kent Community Health NHS Trust said the closure would be in place as it tries to fill vacant medical positions.
A month on, they are still looking to recruit staff but would not be drawn on how many vacancies there are.
Head of service for Swale, Victoria Cover, said they took the decision to shut it to ensure they continue to provide safe, high quality care to all patients.
She said: “We have no patients on the Island waiting for a bed with us.
“In fact, as of Wednesday, we have a number of empty beds.
“One of the reasons for this is the excellent care our community nursing teams deliver in the community, meaning more and more people with complex conditions can be treated at home, which we know is where they want to be.
“We have also taken on extra therapy staff, delivering physio and occupational health, which means the people we are caring for in hospital are recovering faster.
“We have no plans to close the ward permanently and are continuing with our Kent-wide recruitment campaign to attract nursing staff.
“We intend to gradually reopen the beds as we recruit staff over the next couple of months.”
Brian Clark, who lives in Queenborough Road, Halfway, had heard it was going to be shut for good and was worried at the potential loss of 24 beds for people on Sheppey.
The 70-year-old said: “I’m relieved if it is going to reopen.
“I know they have trouble getting staff and if they are short, they have got to recruit.
“But with the population on the Island and the caravan parks with people coming from London, we have got to have the facilities.”
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