HEALTH bosses believe more people will have their say on the future of a ward at the town’s hospital once it is properly advertised after only a dozen people turned up to the first consultation meeting over the weekend.
Tatton Ward, at Knutsford and District Community Hospital, was temporarily closed in August 2010 and it was announced in October that a 14-week consultation was being held by its operators East Cheshire NHS Trust to garner the views of town residents.
The first meeting was held on Saturday, November 24, but the trust told the Guardian only ‘12 to 15’ people turned up.
Campaigners have told the Guardian they believe the ward should remain open after being told that two units that have taken patients who would have been sent to Knutsford have been almost full.
Macclesfield Hospital’s Langley Unit/Ward 10 has been 100 per cent full between April 1 to September 30, while the Aston Ward at Congleton’s War Memorial Hospital has been 97 per cent full over the same period.
They argue that this shows the Tatton Ward is needed and should be reopened.
Fiona Doorey, spokesperson for the East Cheshire NHS Trust, said: “We spent quite a lot of time with a number of individuals and it’s the first one of 14 weeks of consultation.
“We didn’t do lots of advertising for this meeting as it went on our website four days before.
“We’ve got lots more of these meetings planned and it’s a case of getting more information out there then we expect more people to come.”
But Knutsford resident Mabel Taylor told the Guardian the low turnout just showed that the trust had not done enough to make people aware that the meeting was taking place.
“We got there and told them straight away that it wasn’t really a consultation because they hadn’t advertised it,” she said.
“They had cutouts saying join our consultation but it was set up outside the room so if you were driving past you would never have seen them. I told them they should have put them in Booths or the town centre but we were told they may be stolen and the cutouts were expensive.”
The next meeting in the consultation takes place at Macclesfield Hospital, on December 6, at 6.30pm, while the next event to take place in Knutsford is scheduled to be staged in January.