PROPOSALS to transfer beds and domiciliary care from a community hospital to a care home are temporary, Powys health chiefs say – but angry members of that hospital’s community fear it is another step towards closing it forever.

The future of Knighton Hospital took another twist when the local health board announced it was considering “temporary options” for providing care at Cottage View Care Home.

It means Knighton remains without a fully-operational inpatient ward as it continues to struggle to recruit enough nurses to reopen it, and some local people fear the new proposal for a step-down facility for people waiting for domiciliary care at Cottage View represents a step towards the ward's permanent closure.

Powys Teaching Health Board said in a newsletter published on its website on Tuesday that the measures would be “interim”.


But, after a recruitment day held at the hospital last September, hoping to attract registered nurses and health care support workers to fill the 13 slots required to fully staff the hospital’s Panpwnton Ward, proved fruitless, locals are fearing the worst. 

“Temporary is always a good way to sow the seed of future closure,” said one commenter, Anthony Watts, reacting to the publication of the newsletter on the popular Knighton News Facebook page.

“Much like our local schools, local government has failed to protect vital services which make a community. Residents need to come together and resist this erosion.”

Steve Edward, a former hospital employee for 10 years, added: “Same as they only told us it would be closed three months, then it was six months, then it was by Christmas.

“Powys Teaching Health Board took the golden opportunity of Covid-19 to shut Knighton, something that had been threatened for years.

“The be all and end all is, you're never going to get it back.”


Town representatives have, however, attempted to downplay what they say is “scaremongering” over its future.

“It isn’t ideal because I would like to see the hospital open for everyone, but these proposals will keep the building open and enable people to come back to town and recover among friends and family,” said Knighton county councillor Ange Williams.

“We all want it open as a proper hospital but, if we can’t have it open fully, surely it’s better to have it open in some capacity than not at all.”

“It is better than nothing (having 4 beds in Cottage View) but it’s not what everyone wants or needs locally,” added colleague Corinna Kenyon-Wade, who also represents the town on Powys County Council.

Sign up for our free daily afternoon news briefing here and the day's top stories will be delivered straight to your inbox.

“There is a nurses shortage in general, there’s just not enough of them, and we need 13 to provide 24/7 cover in Knighton. There’s a crisis in Powys with stepdown care, as we can’t get domiciliary care packages in place, again because of a lack of carers.

“I’m really hoping Knighton can return. People in Knighton really want their hospital back.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic some services were switched from Knighton to Llandrindod Wells War Memorial Hospital, including inpatient beds. Knighton has continued to provide outpatient services, therapies and a midwife-led birth centre, alongside the Cottage View Care Home. The hospital also continues to be a hub for healthcare teams working in people’s homes across east Radnorshire.

In the health board newsletter, Hayley Thomas, director of primary and community care and mental health services, said challenges pre-pandemic had continued to dog the hospital in its aftermath.

“Maintaining safe staffing levels for registered nursing on Panpwnton Ward was already challenging before the pandemic,” she said.


“As we enter 2023, despite ongoing recruitment efforts, we have not been able to recruit to the level needed to re-open the ward.”

She added: “With the ward currently closed we need to consider other temporary options for providing more care more locally. For example, we can expand on the services we currently provide at Cottage View to offer a step-down facility for people waiting for domiciliary care.

“This could provide four beds for short-term local care within Knighton Hospital until a supportive package of home care can be put in place. More people would receive more care in their local community, reducing the need for family, friends and carers to travel to district general hospitals or other community hospitals.

“We are currently looking at options for making this happen as a temporary step to support our wider plans for the winter. And we are absolutely committed to the continued development of services for people in Knighton and east Radnorshire, and continuing to work with you to ensure a bright future for Knighton Hospital.”