MP raises concerns over Whalton Unit temporary move

Ian Lavery MP.
Ian Lavery MP.

Ian Lavery has called on Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to reconsider its decision to relocate the Whalton Unit in Morpeth to Wansbeck General Hospital for the winter period.

The health body announced yesterday that 30 beds at the inpatient ward, which delivers specialist rehabilitation for frail older patients, will move from the grounds of the former Morpeth Cottage Hospital to its new, temporary, home in Ward 8 at the hospital in Ashington from Wednesday, December 19.

It also said that the relocation will be reviewed next summer and a ‘transport solution’ will be in place for those disadvantaged by the new location.

The MP for Wansbeck said the news was ‘extremely concerning’ and he has written to the trust to ask it to reconsider its decision and that if the move does take place, it commits to returning the facility to Morpeth at the earliest time.

He added: “It is extremely concerning to see the Whalton Unit lost to Morpeth, albeit on a temporary basis.

“These small facilities in rural counties like Northumberland are essential to the well-being of people living in our communities.

“People living in or around Morpeth, with elderly relatives receiving specialist rehabilitation treatments, will now be forced to travel further afield to visit.

“The fact that the Whalton Unit is having to be relocated over the winter to ensure an adequate level of staffing highlights the issues the NHS currently faces.

“It has become a predictably sad annual spectacle, seeing our cherished institution at breaking point over the winter months.

“The Conservative Government has spectacularly failed to get to grips with the problem – with trusts in a collective deficit of £519million nationally and needing to make savings of up to six per cent annually.

“Sadly, if something does not change quickly, moves like this will become more common.

“Only a matter of weeks ago, the trust was appealing for staff from across the country to relocate to this wonderful area, having suffered from recruitment issues over a period of several years.”