Controversial plans to shift a specialist dementia care ward from Airedale Hospital to Bradford have come under attack.
Bradford District Care Trust has announced it wants to move Ward 24 to Lynfield Mount Hospital in Daisy Hill.
But the proposal, aimed at saving the trust £300,000, has met with widespread local opposition, even leading to the formation of a campaign group to fight the move.
Members argue some of the most vulnerable members of the community face a 65-mile round trip to access services if the bid is approved.
The Rev David Griffiths, Ward 24 Carers Action Group chairman, said: “The care trust is doing its job and trying to save money, but moving this to Bradford will mean people in the north of our catchment area having to catch five buses for a 65-mile round trip.”
The bid is also opposed by Keighley ward councillors Adrian Farley and Doreen Lee.
Coun Lee said: “We’re extremely concerned. This is our only elderly ward in the area for people with acute dementia. How will their relatives get to Lynfield?”
A day of action is planned outside Keighley Market Hall on March 1, where people will be asked to sign a petition against the re-location.
But Bradford District Care Trust deputy chief executive, Nicola Lees, responded: “Moving Ward 24 to a purpose-built facility at Lynfield Mount Hospital by spring 2015 is part of our wider plan to transform older people’s care.
“The new unit will provide 22 private bedrooms, with some en-suite facilities, and will offer a bespoke space for people living with this condition. This means we can provide higher quality care in the best possible environment.”
She emphasised the move was not about cutting costs. “We estimate we will save about £300,000 in current leasing arrangements, and some of this money will be re-invested into improving staffing levels in both our in-patient wards and community services,” she added.
“We understand that for some, an in-patient stay is the only option. Where this is the case and re-location has an impact, we can confirm we will support carers and families to visit their loved ones.”
But Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “I’m afraid this has the feel of a negotiating position on the part of Bradford District Care Trust, although I hope I’m wrong.
“I’ve written to the trust chairman to seek his views. I would certainly not wish to see my constituents having to travel into Bradford for access to this care.”
John Grogan, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley, said: “Quite rightly, there’s always sensitivity in Keighley district when there are proposals to move public services, on which local people rely, to Bradford.
“No-one is more vulnerable than those suffering from dementia. The NHS should think again before disrupting the high quality provision provided for them at Airedale.”
Airedale Hospital declined to comment about the plans.
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