Hospital bosses in Airedale are closing a ward with the loss of 16 beds in a plan to care for more patients closer to their homes.

Ward three at Airedale General Hospital, Steeton, which takes acute admissions, is closing on March 1. No staff will be made redundant as they will be re-deployed to other wards and departments across the hospital.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is planning to reorganise where and how it provides care for patients who are looked after in hospital but do not need acute medical care.

The reorganisation is part of plans to improve the way patients are admitted and discharged at the hospital.

Christine Miles, interim director of operations at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that at any given time there are around 20 to 25 patients in the hospital who do not need acute medical care.

“They would benefit from being looked after with support, such as telemedicine at home, in a care home or another transitional setting.

“By improving the way we manage care, we can prevent them being admitted to hospital by identifying changes in their conditions early.

“We can then provide health care locally to help them get well again.

“In the same way, we want patients who no longer need acute medical care to be able to get back to their families earlier.”

Natalie Ratcliffe, area organiser for Unison, said hospital management at Airedale had failed to consult with staff over the ward closure.

In addition, four beds had been lost on ward 21, a maternity ward, and ward 19, a private ward, was threatened with closure, she said.

“They need to start consulting with us if they want to do this amicably,” she said.

“If they don’t we will take action. We will be organising a meeting and starting to talk to members about what action they are prepared to take.”