• City Community Hospital in Oxford to reopen 12 beds in November and another four in January 
  • Unit closed in May on patient safety grounds
  • Health chiefs say there was “scepticism” among staff over prospects of hospital reopening 

An Oxfordshire community hospital is to reopen after it was forced to shut at the beginning of the summer due to major nursing shortages.

Oxford Health Foundation Trust’s board discussed the future of City Community Hospital in Headington, which was closed on patient safety grounds in May, at a meeting on Wednesday.

Twelve beds at the hospital are now due to reopen in November after “good progress” has been made on recruitment. An additional four beds will open in January as demand is predicted to increase during the winter months.

Over the summer, a ward manager, deputy ward manager, clinical development nurse and three band five nurses were recruited to the hospital.

The trust has ramped up its recruitment efforts across all of its inpatient community hospital sites “to ensure capacity is maintained in the longer term”.

A trust spokesman said: “Oxford Health has approved the reopening of City Community Hospital, which was temporarily closed for safer staffing reasons in May this year.

“This was due to high levels of registered nursing vacancies. Good progress has been made on recruitment in the meanwhile and we are now working to put in place all of the staffing and medical cover arrangements needed to reopen effectively, we anticipate during November.”

The 12-bed unit within the Fulbrook Centre at the Churchill hospital site was closed after it was predicted that two-thirds of nursing posts would be vacant at the end of May. Patients were transferred to other community hospitals in the area, while staff were deployed to other parts of the trust.

A report presented to the OH board stated: “The trust had found itself in a position where the ward was heavily reliant on temporary and agency staffing on every shift, therefore impacting on quality and consistency of care delivery for patients.

“Specifically, we could not guarantee a substantive member of Oxford Health FT staff on each shift in the context of a caseload where continuity of care is paramount.”

According to the report, there was “some scepticism” among staff over the prospects of the hospital reopening. It was also acknowledged there is a “risk” some staff may want to remain on their new wards, rather than return to the Headington site.

The report added: “We will continue to work with colleagues within HR to understand the implications of this upon service and individual as the need arises.”