Burnley General Hospital’s Ward 23, which was returned to the town in 2013 and cared for some of the most vulnerable and elderly patients, has now been closed by health chiefs.
The rehabilitation ward, which opened shortly before the publication of the damning Keogh Report of that year, was brought back into use at the time to help ease winter pressures at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
It was used as a “step down” ward for mainly elderly patients whose condition was medically stable but were not well enough to return home.
The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust was placed in special measures in July, 2013, following the Keogh Report, which criticised the high number of deaths in its hospitals.
However, health bosses have now taken the decision to close the Burnley ward again.
Gillian Simpson, Director of Operations at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Ward 23 was an escalation ward which was used by the Trust to manage increased demand over the winter period.
“The ward has now been closed with full agreement of the Clinical Commissioning Group as part of the strategy to enable discharge home with appropriate care rather than an extended hospital stay.”
Burnley MP Julie Cooper said she was shocked to hear of the closure of Ward 23, which was based in the Phase V section of the hospital.
The MP said: “I work very hard to bring as many facilities to Burnley as possible and meet regularly with the chief executive of the health trust.
“I am very saddened to hear this ward has closed. The kind of support it offered was so important for vulnerable people.
“The Trust is under huge financial pressure and is having to work with limited resources. However, I can’t see how taking away another ward in Burnley is helpful.”
Mrs Cooper said she has already discussed the possibility of creating a “frailty unit” somewhere in Burnley for elderly patients to be treated.
She added: “We have an ever-increasing ageing population who deserve to be treated with dignity and care.
“I think some kind of frailty unit in Burnley would be a great idea.
“We need to be looking at models in other countries over how they look after their elderly.”