Axminster Hospital beds to reopen

PUBLISHED: 09:53 19 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:39 29 May 2015

Axminster Hospital

Axminster Hospital


Victory for campaigners as health chiefs announce inpatient services will be resumed in July

Sixteen inpatient beds are set to return to Axminster Hospital in July.

The breakthrough in the fiercely-fought campaign to get them back was announced yesterday (Tuesday).

The announcement came from the joint action team - consisting of the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and members of the local community.

It said more work is still to be done, but ‘operational actions’ are now under way for the planned reopening in the summer.

A firm date will be given once more details have been finalised.

In January, the inpatient beds at Axminster were temporarily transferred to Seaton to eradicate lone working within the two community hospitals.

Following this announcement, the Trust and League of Friends agreed to immediately take steps to use the £300,000 offer made by the League to reinstate the beds at Axminster.

A Joint Action Team from the Trust, the League and the Hospital Action Group regularly met to investigate, review and progress the opportunities available towards returning the beds to Axminster.

Since January, there have been four recruitment open days at Seaton, Axminster, Tiverton and Sidmouth hospitals along with a promotional campaign including both radio and newspaper advertising.

To reopen the inpatient unit, the Trust needed to fill 420 hours - 11.5 full-time equivalent - registered nursing posts.

To ensure units are not reliant on agency or bank nursing staff, at least 80 per cent of these hours needed to be filled with substantively-employed nurses.

On Monday, May 11, at the Joint Action Group meeting, at Axminster hospital, the Trust announced that this 80 per cent target had been surpassed and that the Trust was in a position to create a full roster of nurses.

The Joint Action Team says it is ‘thrilled about this’ and is now starting to look operationally at reopening the beds in Axminster.

Vacancies will continue to be advertised using banners, social media and the NHS Jobs website.

In the meantime, the remaining 20 per cent of hours will be filled with a ‘nursing pool’ - registered nurses who have expressed an interest in doing some ad hoc hours - and by using NHS bank staff from NHS Professionals. Some agency staff will also be employed.

Core drivers of the programme, Steve Holt from the League of Friends and Dr James Vann, of the Hospital Action Group, said: “We are delighted. It’s not all been plain sailing but we have shown that working together across the Trust and community has significant benefits in achieving a common goal.

“We have seen the issues with nurse recruitment but have shown that no problem is insurmountable.

“The Trust has limited resources and we were able to bring the support from the community to reopen what is considered by all to be a fundamental and essential part of Axminster hospital. Thanks to everyone for the support given throughout.”

Darryn Allcorn, director of workforce and development for the Trust, said: “I am thrilled that we are now in a position to plan for the reopening of the beds in Axminster.

“We are really proud of what we have achieved through working in such positive collaboration with the Axminster community.

“It is testament to the willingness of everyone involved to understand each other’s point of view that we have managed to achieve this shared goal. This is what true partnership working is all about.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to our newly recruited and returning staff who will be part of the team at Axminster for their flexibility and patience while we have been going through this process.

“Our sincere thanks also go to the League of Friends for their very kind offer of £300,000 without which this would not have been possible.”

Mr Allcorn added that more details regarding the reinstatement of the beds will follow.

● Due to the national nursing shortage, the Trust has vacancies at many of its community hospitals. Therefore, suitable candidates recruited from the open days with the intention of working in Axminster have begun work and are currently based at other community hospital sites until the unit reopens.

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