A LONG-awaited consultation into hospital closures has begun – after Wesham Hospital was shut last year.
The NHS’s plans to combine older patients’ care services across the Fylde have been revealed as the scheme is put out for the public to have its say.
The plans involve combining the care offered at Wesham and Rossall hospitals at Clifton Hospital in St Annes.
But the NHS has come under intense criticism for closing its Wesham rehabilitation centre without consulting with people first.
An internal document revealed hospital bosses had sought legal advice to see whether they could shut the facility without asking for the public’s views. But they were told the scheme had to go out to public consultation.
Health chiefs have insisted the latest moves are designed to streamline services and are not being proposed to save money.
But Coun Liz Oades, Fylde’s ward councillor for Kirkham South, said: “I have been pushing and pushing for this.
“I have been highly critical of them taking away rural services.
“I’m appalled if they’re not reopening Wesham and closing Rossall. It’s absolute bunkum, these aren’t cost saving measures.
“I would urge as many people as possible to look at the consultation and give their views.
“I just wonder how much notice the NHS will take.”
The move could also see Bispham Hospital in Rysecar Way closed.
Bosses claim the fact there are more facilities at Clifton will reduce time in hospital and more support will be offered to patients’ and their families within their homes.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said this will improve and modernise care, and a 12-week consultation period begins today.
Dr James McIlmoyle, a consultant in stroke medicine, said: “By concentrating our resources and expertise on one site, consultants and specialists will be able to provide more time delivering direct patient care, leading to better outcomes and shorter lengths of stay for patients.”
Tim Welch, acting chief executive at the trust, said: “Our argument is you can provide the best care by moving the unit to the one site.”
The rehabilitation units offer care and therapy to patients getting back on their feet after an accident, ill health or operation.