THE rehabilitation day care unit at Pendle Community Hospital will close by the end of September.
The decision was taken at a meeting of East Lancashire Hospitals Primary Care Trust board and was immediately condemned by politicians and union members.
Rossendale councillor Janet Graham, an ambulance driver who regularly visits the hospital in Leeds Road, Nelson, said staff were notified of the decision after the closure had been agreed. They will redeployed to other posts in East Lancashire.
She said: “The unit is fantastic and provides a valuable service to the community. Patients are often referred there for rehabilitation care as it is not available to them in their homes and there are not enough staff on the ground.”
UNISON regional officer Tim Ellis said the news was a shock, despite there being rumours about the unit’s future in circulation. He said: “It will mean a loss of local jobs and local service provision and will also raise a question about the future of the whole hospital.
“The trust is under pressure because of spending cuts in the NHS. People will not be rehabilitated in the community. The elderly and immobile need regular rehabilitation which cannot be provided in their homes.”
A PCT spokesman said: “A decision has been made by the Primary Care Commissioners of rehabilitation and reablement services in East Lancashire that the services provided within rehabilitation day units at Pendle and Rossendale will be transferred into existing community health provision.
“As such, the rehabilitation day units on both sites will be closed by the end of September.
“The decision has been taken following a thorough review of service provision and following consultation with professionals to get improved clinical outcomes.
“However, the services will still be available locally for patients in other facilities or their own homes; it is a review focusing on how best to deliver the service.
“This review will lead to a service that is redesigned to ensure it meets the needs of the population, is modern and up to date, and is efficient and effective.
“We are looking at the best places to provide the best care for patients.
“We know patients want to receive individualised, tailored approaches to their rehabilitation. Therefore we need to look at more flexible and convenient arrangements that suit the majority of patients.
“Working with Lancashire County Council, services will continue to be led by health and social care therapy teams, delivering health and social care needs within patients own homes or within the community.
“This linking of partner agencies who already deliver reablement with or without therapy will provide both value for money and an increase in quality and seamlessness of care for the patient.
“The change in model will improve access to a range of services and the benefits will be to provide an equitable, efficient and flexible service to meet the needs of patients.
“A consultation with staff will be undertaken as part of the review.”
Pendle Council leader Coun. Mike Blomeley said no consultations had taken place on the closure with the PCT.
“It is disappointing for them to take this decision without consulting their partners, but the final decision rests with them,” he said.