Questions have been asked about delays to the siting of 20 nurse-led beds in Fleetwood.
Senior Fleetwood GP Dr Mark Spencer and health campaigner Bill Barrow say they are becoming increasingly frustrated because they have had no answers from health officials on when the beds will be made available, after years of waiting.
The beds will provide vital rehabilitation for predominantly older patients who would otherwise end up taking up beds at Blackpool Victoria Hospital but who would rather be cared for at primary care level closer to their homes.
It was back in June 2014 that healthcare chiefs met to debate where in the town the beds would go, either at Fleetwood Hospital or the Health and Wellbeing Centre on Dock Street, after a year of deciding.
But although they recommended that the beds, allocated after the first closure of Rossall Hospital’s NHS wards nearly four years ago, should be sited at the Dock Street facility instead of Fleetwood Hospital, nothing has happened.
Mr Barrow, a former member of Fleetwood Town Council who once led the body’s health working party, said: “We are still getting nowhere and have had no clear answers. There have been rumours they are not coming at all, then rumours it will happen in June.”
And Dr Spencer said: “One effect of us still not getting these beds is that these patients will end up taking up beds they don’t want, and which are badly needed by others, at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
“We already have a situation where beds for stepdown patients, those who no longer need to be at Blackpool Victoria, have been lost because of the recent closures at Bispham and Rossall, after it re-opened.
“It all puts extra pressure on Blackpool Victoria.
“This is directly affecting my own patients at Fleetwood who would be cared for by nurses at Dock Street and who we would happily give support to.
“Being sent to acute wards at a large hospital is not the best place for rehabilitation patients.
“Despite repeated letters to one of the health bodies, the Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group, they have not replied.
“We are completely in the dark and I share Bill Barrow’s frustrations and concerns.”
The two men said they were still seeking answers.
Mr Barrow added: “What is particularly frustrating is that we have two facilities in this town, Fleetwood Hospital and the Health and wellbeing Centre, which are far from full.
“What is happening to Fleetwood Hospital?”
Doubts over the future of Fleetwood Hospital remain; it would cost a massive £4m to get the building up to scratch, according to owners, the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
That has left the privately-owned Dock Street facility as the favoured option for the beds, but it is understood that one reason for the delay over the beds is the negotiations between the health officials and the owners of the building.
Originally owned by Fleetwood businessman Mark Abbott, the Dock Street premises is now owned by an organisation called Assura, which develops property for primary care.
In a joint statement Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are working closely together to progress the arrangements for the development of the new unit at Dock Street in Fleetwood.”