NHS bosses scrap plan to axe Whitworth Hospital rehabilitation ward

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NHS bosses have scrapped plans to close a specialist rehabilitation ward at Matlock’s Whitworth hospital after a proposal to move services elsewhere proved too costly.

The 12 beds on Oker Ward have been facing the axe since 2017, as part of a reorganisation across north Derbyshire which would have seen a new dedicated unit built at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Matlock Hospitals League of Friends chairman Mike Tomlinson and secretary Pam Wildgoose spearheaded a campaign to save the Oker Ward at the Whitworth Hospital.

Matlock Hospitals League of Friends chairman Mike Tomlinson and secretary Pam Wildgoose spearheaded a campaign to save the Oker Ward at the Whitworth Hospital.

But at the joint governing bodies meeting on December 13, senior executives confirmed that the move could not be achieved and so the ward would remain open.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said: “The reason for the amendment to the plan is predominantly due to the practical challenges of implementing the 24 beds on a new ward at Chesterfield, which the implementation process showed has ultimately not been possible without significant capital funding.

“The Better Care Closer to Home business case, published in 2016, set out the requirement for 32 beds to meet the community rehabilitation needs of the northern Derbyshire population and that is what we are providing.”

Another rehabilitation ward at Clay Cross hospital has also been spared the axe.

Matlock Hospitals League of Friends protest march against the proposed bed closure of beds in 2016.

Matlock Hospitals League of Friends protest march against the proposed bed closure of beds in 2016.

The spokesman said: “We see the decision to retain specialist rehabilitation beds across three community hospital sites as a long-term solution although it is important to note that we monitor demand and supply for services and potential changes in ways that care is offered all the time

“We will continue to review whether services are organised and delivered in the best way to meet need.”

The proposed closure had met with opposition from local health campaigners, including a protest march during the consultation period in 2016 which received huge community support.

Hundreds of members of the public and local organisations wrote to the CCG in an appeal to save the ward.

Pam Wildgoose, the secretary of the Matlock Hospitals League of Friends, said: “We are very pleased indeed that the gold-standard Oker Ward is to be retained for the foreseeable future.

“It seems a long time since the march through Matlock but we must praise the local community for coming together on this important issue. Thank you again.”

In the short-term, resources will be made available for routine maintenance works to be carried out on the ward.