TATTON Ward at Knutsford Community Hospital has been closed since 2010.

Its operator – East Cheshire NHS Trust – has made it clear that it feels the ward is no longer able to meet the needs of patients.

On its website it has listed the reasons behind the closure: it is old accommodation in need of modernisation; it has reduced access to therapy services; and it has limited access to medical care.

The website adds: “We made the decision in September 2010 to temporarily close this facility due to these reasons. We are now proposing the permanent closure of this ward and the transfer of the service to the Langley Unit at Macclesfield District General Hospital.”

This decision has not gone down well with health care campaigners who believe there is a need for the ward in Knutsford. They add that it shows it is another example of services being taken away from the town.

Tatton Ward provided intermediate care to help people become more independent after they had spent time in hospital – a service that the Langley Unit now provides.

The Guardian was invited for a tour around the unit which opened in 2008. Along with the 28-bed unit Aston Ward at Congleton War Memorial it will continue to take patients that used to be cared for at Tatton if the proposal to close the unit for good is rubber stamped.

Ward nurse Debbie Burgess worked at Tatton Ward before its closure and said the new unit made it much easier to work as there was more room – and it was modern.

“We try very hard not to make it feel like an acute hospital,” she said.

“That means we let relatives come in and out. Sometimes it feels like the best of both worlds.”

Kath Senior, nursing director, said the main difference between the Langley Unit and Tatton Ward was that the Macclesfield unit was purpose-built.

The Langley Unit has 30 beds with the majority around the edge and with large windows so patients can view outside.

But there are four beds in two central rooms in the ward, which means no windows – only skylights.

Some concerns have been that the trust is moving out of Knutsford but chief executive John Wilbraham assured the Guardian this wasn’t the case.

“In terms of out-patient services we aren’t moving out of Knutsford we are looking for the GPs to come together on a premises in the town,” he said.

He added it was the trust’s belief that the best care could be provided at these ‘super surgeries’ and at home.

“We do appreciate the issue with the transport from Knutsford but unfortuntately it’s not something I can help with,” he said.

“We recognise that people are travelling but they are travelling from all over our patch. When Tatton Ward was open there were people from Macclesfield for example who were travelling there and they had similar travel problems.

“If we reopened Tatton Ward tomorrow it wouldn’t be full of Knutsford patients.”

The main use of the ward is to rehabilitate patients in preparation for them going home.

John McGowan, from Hurdsfield in Macclesfield, is currently in his second stay at the unit.

His wife Ruth told the Guardian: “Since he’s been here they have really looked after him. They really are excellent and there’s nothing too much trouble for them. When he goes in the day room he enjoys it as it’s a good social gathering.”

John added: “They are a good lot here and I make sure I make the most of it when I’m in.”

Campaigners have never criticised the care on offer at the Langley Unit.

They just believe that it is a simple case of services being moved out of town and they believe Knutsford as a result is missing out.

There will be five more consultation dates before the 14-week consultation period ends and only after those meetings will the fate of Tatton Ward be known.




Thursday, December 6, 6.30-7.30pm at Macclesfield District General Hospital Education and Training Centre, Lecture Theatre.

Monday, January 21, 11am to 1pm, St Johns Church Hall, Knutsford.

Monday, January 28, 11am to 1pm, The AP Club, Holmes Chapel.

Wednesday, February 6, 11am to 1.00pm, Wilmslow Leisure Centre.

Week commencing Monday, February 4, 11am to 1pm, Knutsford District and Community Hospital, date to be confirmed by December 30.