“DEVASTATED”. That’s how one staff member felt after being told about the three-month closure at Hythe Hospital.

“Everybody is devastated. The meeting where we were told about the plans came completely out of the blue.

“There were several people in tears. A lot of them have worked here for a long time.

“It’s not just about our jobs, it’s about our local hospital.”

The worker said that many within the hospital believed that the current staff shortage was a problem of Hampshire Community Health Care’s own making.

“The general perception is that the reason there is a staff shortage is because no efforts have been made to replace people quickly after they leave.

“We are not averse to change and looking at how to make the hospital more viable but health bosses have never wanted to engage with us about it.

“When it closes it will be difficult to open it again as it once was.”