The Fernwood Community Unit at Newark Hospital has been temporarily transferred to the former Castle Ward.

Mr Ant Rosevear, assistant chief operating officer for Newark Hospital, said they looked at the best way of supporting the flow of medical patients from King’s Mill Hospital, which increases during winter.

Last year Castle Ward was re-opened with eight extra medical beds, but Mr Rosevear said that was not possible this time because of staffing issues, a problem faced by hospitals nationally.    

Instead a Newark Hospital winter plan has been agreed, where the 12-bed Fernwood Community Unit has moved from the ground floor to the first floor, where it now operates beside the 24 medical beds on Sconce Ward.

Four new beds for medical patients have been provided on the Fernwood Unit.

Mr Rosevear said the decision was made after consultation with nursing and medical staff.

“It seems the sensible option,” he said.

“It was agreed that the co-location of the wards would be the best response to help with winter pressures.”

The Fernwood Unit is used for patients who need extra help ahead of being allowed home. Mr Rosevear said the services for those patients would continue as normal.

Sconce and Fernwood nursing staff have been integrated into one team under the leadership of a ward sister supported by deputy sisters, with an extra nurse rostered on to the staff pattern.

The therapy staff have been integrated into one team.

'We can increase our capacity'

Mr Rosevear said the move meant staff could work across both wards more efficiently.

“By doing this we can increase our capacity and ensure continued effective ward leadership and safe staffing levels are maintained for both nursing and therapy teams across both wards whilst supporting patient flow across the trust,” Mr Rosevear said.

“This will ensure we continue to provide safe and effective care to our patients.”

Mr Rosevear said he wanted to thank staff for their continued hard work and support.

He said they had responded positively and flexibly to the change.

“Our teams from other departments, including day case, theatres and urgent care, have also demonstrated their support and flexibility by providing staff to cover ward nursing shifts when needed,” he said.

The situation will continue until March 31 when the plan is to revert to the previous system.

Mr Paul Baggaley, secretary of the Say Yes To Newark Hospital campaign, said they had consistently been campaigning to re-open Castle Ward and would like to see it re-opened permanently.