A DORSET hospital has received the good news that its inpatient beds should stay, according to a recommendation made by local healthcare experts.

The beds at Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury are set to stay, following an extensive review of local health needs.

In 2017, NHS Dorset CCG recommended that the hospital should become one of the county’s community health ‘hubs’, but noted that further investigation was needed into whether the inpatient beds should be retained there.

A local reference group looked at various options, including relocating beds at care homes in the area, but has recommended the existing 15 beds remain at the hospital – a conclusion backed by Dorset HealthCare, which runs the hospital.

Chaired by North Dorset GP lead Simone Yule, the reference group included hospital staff, local councillors and GPs, plus representatives from Health Watch, Dorset HealthCare, the CCG, voluntary groups and the Hospital League of Friends.

Over the past year, it has reviewed community health services in the Shaftesbury area and, in particular, how rehabilitation services could be delivered in future years.

After considering a number of options, including the use of beds in care homes in Shaftesbury and Gillingham, members agreed keeping the beds in the hospital was the best way forward for now.

The recommendation was supported at the latest board meeting for the Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust’s Chief Operating Officer Fiona Myers said: “The reference group was made up of people with a clear understanding of local health needs, and we are confident they completed a thorough assessment of the options for providing inpatient rehabilitation beds.

“If there is a material change in local health and social care needs we will review the situation but, for now, we feel these beds should remain at Westminster Memorial Hospital.”

The recommendation from the local reference group that the existing 15 inpatient beds should remain will now go to the NHS Dorset CCG for a final decision.