A hospital in Machynlleth has shut one of its wards for three weeks because of a staffing crisis.
Machynlleth hospital has closed one of its two wards
Only 20 of the 34 available beds at Bro Ddyfi Hospital - which takes elderly patients recovering from surgery - are being used because not enough of the 30 nurses there have appropriate skills.
On Thursday Powys Local Health Board (PLHB) chief executive and medical director are meeting GPs at Machynlleth and Cemmaes Road health practices to try to resolve the situation.
GPs also believe a move by the board to appoint a geriatrics consultant to cover Machynlleth and Llanidloes hospital would weaken links with Bronglais Hospital, 18 miles away at Aberystwyth.
Twymyn ward, with 14 beds for consultant-referred patients, was closed three weeks ago because of a lack of medical cover.
The 14 patients were moved into the hospital's Linor Parry ward, which has 20 beds for patients referred by GPs.
Hospital manager Gordon Lewis said although a consultant and a doctor are now in place, the ward remains closed.
"We want to re-open the Twymyn ward but because of nurse staffing problems this would mean that only eight of the 20 GP beds in the Linor Parry would be available," he said.
"The GPs are not happy because this would mean they would lose access to beds for their patients.
But even re-opening the Twymyn ward would only make available 22 of the hospital's 34-bed capacity as winter approaches.
Health board chairman Chris Mann is to meet town councillors
"For many years nurse staffing has been critical and we have managed to keep wards and services going by staff working over contract hours," said Mr Lewis.
"With current financial constraints we are asked to work within budget which means we cannot staff the two wards adequately."
Three years ago a review of the hospital recommended that the two wards should be amalgamated into one generic ward.
"In the long term with one generic ward, staffing will be adequate and all services will be able to function," he added.
Cemmaes Road GP Ralph Tedders said: "The staffing problem at Machynlleth is due to bad management over the years.
"We also want to thrash out the board's idea of employing a geriatrics consultant which I believe would come from Swansea."
He added that re-opening the Twymyn ward now could result in bed-blocking at Machynlleth which is often used by patients recovering from surgery at Bronglais.
The health board's chairman Chris Mann is due to meet Machynlleth town councillors next Monday to explain the situation.
When told about Dr Tedders' criticisms of past management, health board chief executive, Andrew Williams said: "If they feel that is the case then I'm sure they will tell me that at Thursday night's meeting."