A hospital ward that provides the only state respite care on the Fylde coast will remain shut until at least the end of April, it has been confirmed.
The Windsor Unit in Clifton Hospital, St Annes, has been closed since January leaving regular users at a loss to know what is happening.
He thinks that I’m here just for him, to be on call 24 hours a day
Michael Leman, whose wife lives with multiple sclerosis, said: “It’s always nice to get a break. We don’t have that at the moment.
“There are things that we miss. I can’t arrange anything without taking the wheelchair into consideration.
“We don’t get to see friends as often.”
Pauline Jowett, 73, of Edgeway, Blackpool, is principal carer for her husband Leslie, 78, who suffered a series of strokes more than 25 years ago.
Until the unit was closed in January, she has been given a break up to five times a year while her husband was admitted to the Windsor Unit.
She said: “I’m despairing. My husband is paralysed down one side, he can’t walk, or talk and has no sense of reasoning.
“Life is extremely difficult.
“We were told the unit would reopen at the end of March and it is the only place Les will go.
“He thinks that I’m here just for him, to be on call 24 hours a day
“A few years ago, I tried having him cared for in a home for a week, but he got out, tried to get home, and was found on Lytham Road in Blackpool.
“It is not a case of there being alternatives, he just will not go.
“I have help two days a week, and that is it. This service is so vital to so many people.
“Without me, and all the other carers, the help our loved ones need would cost a fortune.”
A spokesperson for NHS England – North Lancashire and Greater Manchester said: “Due to unprecedented activity currently being experienced in A&E departments, we have asked Trusts across the region to extend their winter capacity plans through to April.
“NHS England is committed to ensuring a safe and sustainable service for all patients.”
Charles Evans, 78, of Blackpool Old Road, Marton: “Our son who has multiple sclerosis has used the respite ward at Clifton Hospital several times during the past two years.
“The respite ward is very friendly, the staff work very hard and are aware of the needs of MS and other patients.
“He should have been in the hospital recently but had his admission cancelled.
“I wrote to the hospital management asking if other facilities could be used and was invited to let our son stay at a local nursing home.
“I visited the home and we agreed that it would be suitable for him but on the day of his admission the home rang to say that because of their situation no admissions could be accepted.
“We think the hospital needs to reopen Clifton as soon as possible so that the patients and their families can get some respite.
“If not then problems will build up making things more difficult for the NHS.”