Emotional nurses from Midhurst Community Hospital claimed they had been prepared to work extra shifts to keep the ward open.
They said they had not been consulted on the closure and not enough had been done to try and find new staff.
Margaret Guest, chairman of the day care club for the elderly Rother Valley Together said health officials had been aware of the nursing recruitment crisis for a considerable period of time: “It feels as though this is a very late reactive response to what has been a long term problem.”
She asked what efforts had been made with West Sussex County and Chichester District Councils to look at affordable homes for key workers. “This problem is not going to go away and we need longer term strategic planning.”
Hospital Friends chairman George Marchand said they had been working hard for a long time to find a solution. Recently the friends had agreed to fund more advertising for a recruitment drive. They had also been looking to provide nursing accommodation at the disused Rotherfield Mews on the hospital campus owned by the Sussex Partnership Trust: “It’s been a long and tortuous battle, but there is some movement on it now.”
He said the Friends had a large legacy which could fund refurbishment.
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