Published: 00:00, 25 April 2014
| Updated: 09:48, 25 April 2014
A ward at Sheppey Community Hospital has been shut temporarily due to a shortage of staff.
Kent Community Health NHS Trust said the closure would be in place as it tries to fill vacant medical positions.
Patients from Minster ward were transferred last week to the remaining Harty ward, which is still open and has 24 beds.
The decision was questioned by Sheerness resident Julia McDougall, whose 93-year-old godmother, from Minster, was being treated at Medway Maritime Hospital but has since been moved to a side room at the hospital in Plover Road, Minster.
She said the move made life a lot easier for her godmother’s daughter, 73, who was having to travel to Gillingham to see her.
Mrs McDougall, 59, said: “The Island has a growing population and it’s only going to grow as people live longer and have more children.
“Family members keep having to go back and forth and now we have these nice wards and one of them is empty and I can’t understand why.
“I don’t know what the answer is but I thought agency nurses could come in. There might be plenty of staff who are willing to come on to the Island to work.”
Sue Baldwin, community services director for Swale, said there were no patients on Sheppey waiting for a bed.
She said: “To ensure we can continue to provide safe, high-quality care to all our patients we took the decision to temporarily close Minster Ward last week due to a number of staff vacancies.
“We intend to gradually reopen the beds as we recruit staff over the next couple of months. We launched a Kent-wide recruitment campaign to attract nursing staff last year and are working hard to fill vacancies.
“As well as a series of recruitment open days, we are also about to launch and fund a community rotation programme in Swale where newly-qualified nurses can gain experience working in all our services, such as minor injury units, inpatient units, community nursing teams and intermediate care.”
Details of current vacancies, for qualified nurses and healthcare assistants, are available on www.kentcht.nhs.uk/jobs
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