THE Shackleton Ward for dementia patients at St Mary's Hospital has closed due to a lack of staff — just six weeks after reopening following a £200,000 refurbishment.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust took the decision to temporarily close Shackleton to new admissions because it was struggling to staff the specialist ward.

Three patients were being treated in the ward when it was closed — two have since been discharged to Isle of Wight nursing homes and one was transferred to another ward in the hospital.

Shackleton, which can treat a maximum of four patients when open, is now empty again.

The ward's reliance on agency staff, who made up as many as half of its staff at times, was viewed as unsustainable — agency staff are more expensive to recruit and do not always know the ward as well.

A spokesperson for Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: "The safety of the people that we look after is our top priority.

"Despite concerted effort to recruit it is proving extremely challenging to permanently recruit the right number of suitably experienced staff to join the team working on Shackleton Ward.

"To make sure that we can safely look after our patients we have temporarily closed the ward to new admissions."

Shackleton Ward was previously rated inadequate and deemed 'unfit for purpose' by CQC inspectors and closed in April for 12 weeks.

It underwent a £200,000 refurbishment and announced it had reopened on June 26.

The trust said the latest closure was their own decision but the CQC have been informed.

A CQC inspection of St Mary's hospital was carried out in March, and the results are expected in September.