Anger over respite closure

Multiple Sclerosis sufferer Janet Leman cannot receive any respite care over winter at Clifton Hospital.  She is pictured with husband Michael Leman.
Multiple Sclerosis sufferer Janet Leman cannot receive any respite care over winter at Clifton Hospital. She is pictured with husband Michael Leman.
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Carers and councillors have slammed respite provision on the Fylde coast as a ward in Clifton Hospital remains closed.

The Windsor Unit in Clifton Hospital is the last available place for state respite care, after units in Rossall and Wesham were closed in 2013.

The unit has been closed since the first week of January, and users who rely on it to give them a break from the 24-hour-a-day care for loved ones had hoped it would have reopened by now.

A spokesman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed the Windsor Unit was still not open for respite care.

He said: “The local urgent care system has faced unprecedented pressure this winter.

“In order to make sure that the quality of care for patients requiring medical treatment is not compromised, the trust temporarily reallocated staff from the Windsor Unit to other services.

“I can also confirm that NHS England has asked all NHS trusts to maintain their winter capacity plans beyond March 2015, as the pressure on the urgent care system has continued.”

Janet Leman, 57, of Hampstead Close, Lytham, uses the respite care at the Windsor Unit in Clifton Hospital.

She said her husband “seriously needs some help from any direction”.

Mrs Leman has lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years, and relies heavily upon her husband Michael to help her through every day life.

Lancashire County Coun Liz Oades believes the people of Fylde are now getting a “third class health service”.

She said: “This is really disgusting, we fought to keep Wesham open, but the Acute Trust was determined to shut it with assurances that the facilities at Lytham would be better.

“We now find that they are mothballing wards at Clifton and reducing services to our residents, specifically those with serious illness.

“Their carers are just expected to get on with things with less and less help.”

Coun David Chedd is now worried that the “temporary closure” could result in a permanent one.

He said: “Respite facilities like this enable the person to better manage their condition and prevent crises developing, thereby reducing the likelihood of unplanned admissions, reducing pressures on A&E and saving resources.

“If the number of emergency admissions is the reason for the closure, as claimed, then the closure of this unit will only make things worse, just as the closure of the rehab units did.

“Although the closure is described as temporary, I imagine health chiefs are testing the waters, if the unit does re-open, then I assume it will be down to the attention the closure has received.”