STRUCTURE: A community hospital in Odiham, Hampshire, is planned to close on 31 July due to unsafe levels of staffing.

Hampshire Primary Care Trust board papers reveal that a plan for alternative provision is to be drawn up by Calleva, the clinical commissioning group covering the area.

The 12-bed Odiham Cottage Hospital was run by Hampshire Community Health Care, which is now part of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

The main reason for the closure is given as “increased concerns over patient safety”. A report to the PCT board said: “Hampshire Community Health Care identified to the commissioner that it had patient safety concerns due to an inability to recruit and retain qualified staff and a subsequent over-reliance on agency staff.”

The report said that from May 2011 the hospital was running at 36 per cent of its required whole time equivalent staffing numbers.

It also quoted a letter from Hampshire Community Health Care, which said: “We have ensure that there have been no budget limitations on the usage of agency staff, however due to the geographical isolation of the hospital, agencies have frequently been unable to supply nurses.

“It has become increasingly difficult to staff the ward by any available means and HCHC can no longer provide the necessary assurance about the level of safety of the inpatient beds at Odiham.”

The report proposed that the Calleva commissioning group work up a detailed business case to commission alternative services.

The PCT recommends replacing the hospital with more inpatient beds at other local community hospitals, extended homecare, and a number of reablement beds provided through Hampshire County Council’s adult services.