Fears for respite unit after winter pressure

Clifton Hospital
Clifton Hospital
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Councillors have slammed health provision on the Fylde coast as a respite ward in Clifton Hospital remains closed.

The Windsor Unit in Clifton Hospital is the last available place for state respite care on the Fylde coast after units in Rossall and Wesham were closed in 2013.

This is really disgusting, we fought to keep Wesham open but the Acute Trust was determined to shut it with assurances that the facilities at Lytham would be better.

County Coun Liz Oades

The unit has been closed since the first week of January and users had hoped care would have been reinstated by now.

A spokesman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed the Windsor Unit was still not open for respite care.

He added: “The local urgent care system has faced unprecedented pressure this winter.

“In order to make sure that the quality of care for patients requiring medical treatment is not compromised, the Trust temporarily reallocated staff from the Windsor Unit to other services.

“I can also confirm that NHS England has asked all NHS trusts to maintain their winter capacity plans beyond March 2015, as the pressure on the urgent care system has continued.”

Janet Leman, 57, of Hampstead Close, Lytham, is just one of many people who use respite care at the Windsor Unit in Clifton Hospital.

She said her “husband seriously needs some help from any direction”.

Mrs Leman has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for more than 30 years and relies heavily upon her husband Michael to help her through every day life. Lancashire County Coun Liz Oades believes the people of Fylde are now getting a “third class health service”.

She said: “This is really disgusting, we fought to keep Wesham open but the Acute Trust was determined to shut it with assurances that the facilities at Lytham would be better. We now find that they are mothballing wards at Clifton and reducing services to our residents, specifically those with serious illness.

“Their carers are just expected to get on with things with less and less help.”

Coun David Chedd is now worried that a “temporary closure” could result in a permanent one.

He said: “Respite facilities like this enable the person to better manage their condition and prevent crises developing, thereby reducing the likelihood of unplanned admissions, reducing pressures on A&E and saving resources.

“If the number of emergency admissions is the reason for the closure as claimed then the closure of this unit will only make things worse, just as the closure of the rehab units did.

“Although the closure is described as temporary, I imagine health chiefs are testing the waters, if the unit does re-open then I assume it will be down to the attention the closure has received.”