Joy as ward due to re-open

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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Patients and their families who rely on a Fylde respite ward say they can get back to “normal life” after hospital bosses confirmed it will re-open soon.

The Windsor Unit at Clifton Hospital, in St Annes, was closed temporarily to provide extra beds to cope with winter illness.

Fears had been raised it would not re-open following the permanent closure of similar respite wards in Wesham and Rossall.

The unit has been closed since January, leaving regular users unsure as to what the future held.

Hospital bosses closed the unit to ensure staff could cope with a high volume of emergency admissions during the winter months.

But now letters are being sent out to respite users for new applications to use the facility. A spokesman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Windsor Unit will re-open on May 8.

“All current users of the service will receive a letter inviting them to apply for up to two weeks’ respite care between May and September 2015.”

Councillors and users of the ward had raised concerns over whether or not it would reopen at any date.

Kirkham Coun Liz Oades said: “I was with a woman from Kirkham the other day.

“She looks after her husband and has not had any respite for six months. She was exhausted.

“I feel this is all about money. The bean counters have come in and I fear that this unit will become another Wesham hospital, another Rossall.”

Janet Leman, of Hampstead Close, Lytham, has lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years, and relies heavily upon her husband Michael to help her through the tasks of everyday life.

Michael told the Gazette he depended on the services at Clifton Hospital for much-needed breaks from caring for Janet.

He added: “It’s great news, I am very happy we can get back to normal life.”

Families had previously told The Gazette that the service provided at Clifton offered them some much-needed respite – invaluable to both patients and carers.

Charles Evans, 78, of Blackpool Old Road, Marton, whose son has multiple sclerosis, said: “The respite ward is very friendly, the staff work very hard and are aware of the needs of MS and other patients.”