HEALTH professionals in charge of a consultation process over controversial health plans in Fylde have been accused of isolating the elderly.
Proposals to move rehabilitation services to Clifton Hospital at St Annes after the closure of Wesham Hospital last year were met with anger during a meeting at Carr Hill High School in Kirkham.
Councillors attending the meeting demanded answers from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) leading the consultation as to why the meeting was held on a dark, cold night, severely limiting the number of people who could attend.
Fylde councillor Liz Oades said: “We asked for a consultation two years ago but are getting it now.
“We are now having one in the depths of winter at a time when people don’t want to come out and I’m very cynical about this.”
Coun Linda Nulty added: “I’m disappointed with the turnout and believe this is the wrong time for residents.
“Coun Oades and myself have proposed to have another meeting, preferably in Kirkham or Wesham.
“If not we will have our own.”
The meeting was one of six the group is holding across the Fylde coast to determine public opinion on the plans to improve the quality of patient care and provide care outside a hospital setting.
Information presented during the meeting claimed Clifton Hospital had the best transport links for patients, but Coun Nulty disagreed.
She added: “You said the transport links to Clifton are the best, but I would argue against that and wonder if you’ve done your homework.
“There’s no station anywhere near Clifton Hospital, but Wesham is ideally located next to a motorway.”
Dr Tom Johnson, who has worked as a GP in Kirkham for 35 years, says the services proposed for Clifton Hospital would be better placed in Wesham.
He told the meeting: “Kirkham GPs aren’t in favour of this and there are a lot of conflicts of interest.
“There’s going to be a major increase in the elderly population in rural Fylde, not around the Fylde coast, and it’s clear to me that your problems are going to be here in Kirkham and the surrounding areas.”
The closure of Wesham Hospital has been a source of anger for many rural Fylde residents, after it was shut as part of a £6m savings review by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust.
Tim Welch, acting chief executive at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “Our argument is you can provide the best care by moving the unit to the one site.”