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Health campaigners call for the return of inpatient beds to the town
HEALTH campaigners in Knutsford have appealed for inpatient beds to be returned to the town after the new commissioning group announced a new ward for a neighbouring town.
Eight intermediate care beds have been set up at Northwich-based Leftwich Green by the Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group, with more beds planned for Northwich and Winsford in the winter.
Campaigners in Northwich have been fighting for beds to be brought back to the town since the inpatients unit at Victoria Infirmary Northwich (VIN) was closed in May 2010 when wards failed electrical tests.
The Tatton ward at Knutsford Community Hospital was permanently closed in April this year, but had been ‘temporarily shut’ since autumn 2010.
Campaigners in Knutsford have argued with bosses from the Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group - that looks after medical provision in the town - that with no real sign of the proposed medical centre being built in the near future the town’s population should not have to make the journey to Macclesfield or Stepping Hill.
Talking about the beds in Northwich, a spokesman for NHS Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We know how important it is for local people to have access to services either in their home or close to their home.
“We intend to provide appropriate numbers of intermediate care beds in Northwich, and have spent time looking at how best to do this alongside Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, the local authority and East Cheshire Trust (which provide community services).
“For this year, we have a pot of non-recurrent money that we would like to invest in increasing intermediate care services across Vale Royal.
“In addition to Elmhurst Intermediate Care Service based in Winsford, this year we have commissioned eight intermediate care beds at Leftwich Green in Northwich.
“We are now working on plans to open an extra 12 beds in Vale Royal – six in the Winsford area and six in the Northwich area – ready for this winter.
“This will be a pilot service which will be evaluated in the spring of 2014.”
Save Our Northwich Inpatients Campaign (SONIC) fought for beds to be brought back to Northwich because of the difficulty for patients and their visitors travelling to and from Leighton Hospital in Crewe.
The group was established in 2006 when Victoria Infirmary Northwich’s wards were first threatened with closure.
Liam Byrne, from the SONIC campaign group, said: “This is fantastic news.
“The beds will be for intermediate care, which means step up or step down care, and means unblocking beds at Leighton and patients coming back to Northwich.”
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