The paediatric ward at Bassetlaw Hospital is still closed every night due to difficulties in recruiting staff, more than a year after the decision to close the ward was first made.
The hospital, in Worksop, is run by Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust, which also runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Trust bosses say the ongoing overnight closures are due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.
However, health campaigners say the trust is prioritising the Doncaster hospital.
In January 2017, it was announced the A3 paediatric ward at the north Nottinghamshire hospital would have to close overnight, seven days a week.
Now, 16 months later, the ward remains closed from 7pm until 8am the following morning.
It means poorly children are sent to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, 20 miles away.
It takes 35 minutes to drive between the two hospitals, or on public transport the trip takes around an hour and 20 minutes.
An average of 11 children per week have been sent to hospital in Doncaster since the closure, where there is a 24 hour paediatric ward.
A report into the issue, which has been published by Nottinghamshire County Council, states that with the current staffing levels, it would be unsafe to keep the ward open 24 hours a day.
It found that: “It is not clinically safe to re-open the children’s ward at night without the necessary qualified paediatric staff, and following recruitment drives the position remains unimproved.”
The trust which runs the hospital is currently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the health watchdog CQC.
Hospital bosses have said the overnight closures will continue for the ‘foreseeable future’.
Mr Sewa Singh is the trust’s medical director, and said: “As a hospital trust, it’s our responsibility to ensure that local people receive the highest quality care possible in the safest location.
“Due to staffing issues, since January 2017 we have worked to a revised children’s service at Bassetlaw Hospital, which, in the face of national challenges recruiting skilled medical and nursing paediatric staff, is the safest and most effective way of treating local children. As such, this model of care will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
“As a key partner of the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) we will continue to work closely with organisations throughout the region, as we consider the recommendations as outlined in the Hospital Services Review which was published this week.”
Alan Rhodes is the leader of the Labour group at Nottinghamshire County Council, and is also the councillor for Worksop, where the hospital is based.
He said: “This is an ongoing situation, there’s been a huge local campaign about this and I know lots of others including the MP, John Mann, have been very much involved in trying to get the trust to change its mind.
“They claim it is because of recruitment, but I think they need to make sure they do look after Bassetlaw as well as Doncaster.
“When there’s a sick child involved, that care should be delivered as close as possible to that person’s home.
“It’s a nonsense that children are being transferred daily because it’s closed at night, and then being brought back in the morning. We’re talking about really ill children, it’s just not right.
“I think it (the trust) is prioritising Doncaster Hospital, which is the largest in its portfolio.
“They will argue that Doncaster is where the clinical expertise is, but I think the biggest district in Nottinghamshire should have appropriate healthcare, particularly when children’s health is involved.”
Idris Griffiths is the chief officer at NHS Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions care in the area.
He said: “Recruiting paediatric staff with appropriate training remains challenging. With no easy-solution to this issue, we must ensure that local people have access to a consistently high quality and, above all else, safe model of care for children in the local area.
“The model of care being provided by the trust is in-line with Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health guidance, and has proven effective and safe since its implementation in January 2017.
“We will continue to work with the Health Scrutiny Committee, Bassetlaw District Councillors, the ICS and, most importantly, local parents to ensure we offer the best and safest possible paediatric services for the people of Bassetlaw and surrounding areas.”
Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service