Trustees of a community nursing home in north Shropshire fear they are fighting a losing battle to keep it open.
Ellesmere Community Nursing Home, in Trimpley Street, is the town’s former cottage hospital which is now run by a community trust after local residents helped to raise around £1 million to buy the building back from the NHS, and to refurbish and equip it as a registered nursing home.
But Trust chairman Mike Sleigh says the nursing home is now facing an uncertain future, with trustees revealing the real possibility it will have to close early next year.
“With just eight beds, the nursing home is far too small in scale to be financially viable and sustainable,” he said.
“Over the past 23 years, it has survived financially only thanks to a combination of the very energetic fundraising by the League of Friends, the annual rent received from Shropshire Council for the ground floor day care centre and, crucially, from a considerable number of generous bequests and donations.
“But the number and value of bequests has significantly declined in recent years and the Trust has had to use up virtually all its accumulated capital reserves.
“Despite every effort to cut costs and economise, the nursing home is currently facing an annual deficit of £90,000 and with no cash reserves left, we have reached the point where we cannot continue.”
Mr Sleigh said the Trust had been in discussions with Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group over the past six months to make them aware of the nursing home’s financial difficulties.
“We had hoped some sort of bed funding arrangement from the NHS could be put in place with patients who are well enough to leave hospital but not yet well enough to go home using our facilities, easing the current bed-blocking crisis in the county.
“But despite our beds being more cost- effective than keeping patients in acute hospital beds, the CCG has said it is not able to assist us in saving this valuable community resource and so rural north Shropshire faces the loss of its only community nursing home provision.
“The Trust is now involved in a last-ditch attempt to find other sources of income or other ways to continue providing care in partnership with other organisations. But if these efforts fail, there is every possibility the nursing home will have to close early in the new year.
“We are now looking at how we can help the current residents to find suitable alternative accommodation, and how we can support our staff to find new jobs.”
Mr Sleigh said although it was likely the nursing home would have to close, the Trust would continue to own and manage the property on behalf of the community, with the aim of finding a suitable alternative community use for the first-floor space.