One of the wards at Amersham Hospital will be closed for the foreseeable future in order due to a shortage of nurses and therapists.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust have taken the decision to stop admitting new patients into the Chartridge Ward from July 1. Existing patients will remain on the ward until it is safe for them to be discharged and return home.

The decision has been taken as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has imposed conditions regarding staffing levels in community inpatient award. As a result of a shortage of nurses and therapists, the Trust cannot meet the conditions set by the CQC.

The decision to close the ward will be reviewed in November.

Staff who work on the Chartridge Ward will move into the other two inpatient wards at Amersham Hospital.

Patients who require inpatient rehabilitation will be cared for either at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the Buckingham Community Hospital or at Amersham Hospital’s Waterside Ward.

Bucks Free Press:

The Trust have assured that no patients will be transferred to a hospital outside of Buckinghamshire as a result of the closure unless they request this.

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, said: “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 the Health and Social Care Select Committee (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.”