Future of Wharfedale Hospital ‘secure for 3 years’

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Health bosses have pledged their support for Wharfedale Hospital – for at least three years – as criticism grows over the closure of its only inpatient ward.

As reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the older people’s ward at the Otley hospital is to shut as Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust implements a £60m cost-cutting plan. That has sparked anger in the town and a campaign group has started a petition condemning the decision and opposing the loss of any more services. A public meeting is also planned for Monday.

Charlie McEwan, co-ordinator of the Support Wharfedale Hospital Campaign, said: “I encourage everyone to add their name to this petition to support Wharfedale Hospital. If we value its future we are going to have to make sure our voices are heard.

“If everyone can sign this petition it will give a very clear message that we as a community are not prepared to let our hospital be destroyed.”

MP Greg Mulholland said: “The decision of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust to close the ward is nothing short of a disgrace and hugely disappointing for me and other local residents, who have worked so hard to protect these services.”

The petition also calls for health heads to commit to the future of the hospital – and under questioning at the annual meeting of Leeds Hospitals Trust, chief executive Maggie Boyle gave an assurance over the facility.

She said they wanted to make the best use of the hospital because it was “fantastic” and added that while they couldn’t give long-term promises, they could make commitments for the next few years.

“We are absolutely clear that Wharfedale will continue to be a centre that we use for the provision of services. We are committed to retaining Wharfedale as one of our centres and we believe we can guarantee the next three years as we have the last three years,” she said.

Miss Boyle said it would provide day surgery, with the number of theatre sessions likely to increase, ambulatory care and diagnostic services. It also provides chemotherapy and various clinics.

Hospital bosses decided to close the ward as they are trying to cut bed numbers and said the necessary services for older people could be provided elsewhere.

The public meeting is on Monday at 7pm at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley.

To sign the petition, log on to www.supportwharfedalehospital.co.uk

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