STRUCTURE: The South Central strategic health authority has backed plans by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust to close a community hospital.

Southern Health, which provides community and mental health services in Hampshire, commissioned an independent review by the SHA after local people expressed concerns during a consultation exercise on the plans.

The trust sought to close the 12-bed hospital, which offered 24-hour nursing care and a day a week of physiotherapy, due to difficulties in sustaining appropriate staffing levels.

The SHA review concluded that the trust’s decision was justified. It said: “Despite continued and creative attempts to attract staff, Southern Health have failed to fill registered nurse vacancies.

“The continued use of temporary staff is unsustainable in the longer term and exposes the hospital to an increased level of risk.”

The report said there had been a number of instances where shifts were cancelled at the last mnute due to agencies being unable to supply nurses to the hospital.

Hampshire Community Healthcare, now part of Southern Health, gave notice on their contract to provide services at Odiham Cottage Hospital in October 2010.

Board papers for the July meeting of the Southampton, Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Portsmouth primary care trust cluster said services were due to stop at the hospital on 31 July, with alternative services commissioned from 1 August.