‘Time is running out for the campaign’
The campaign calling for a full public consultation on the fate of the Whalton Unit is now in its sixth month.
The 30 beds at the inpatient ward, which delivers specialist rehabilitation for frail older patients, temporarily moved from a facility in Morpeth to Ward 8 at Ashington’s Wansbeck General Hospital in December, with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust saying the decision was taken to ensure that staffing is as resilient as possible for winter.
A statement from the campaigners included the following: ‘Patients in Ward 8 share bays in a ward, so they have none of the privacy or dignity that they had in the Whalton Unit, where there were separate rooms in which people could talk to visitors privately, or watch TV without disturbing other patients.
‘The lack of privacy can make visiting difficult – for example, we have reports of a patient in the next bed repeatedly joining in the conversation between visitors and their elderly mother,
‘We don’t think that this arrangement is appropriate for palliative care and is very different from the privacy that was provided at the Whalton Unit in Morpeth.
‘The lease on the Whalton Unit is up in October of this year, but there has still not been a public consultation about the future of the unit, or about the fate of the patients who are now in Ward 8.
‘Campaigners have recently met with the Rt Rev Mark Tanner, Bishop of Berwick, who was fully supportive of our call for a full public consultation.
‘It is worth noting that the palliative care ward in Wansbeck General Hospital has 17 beds and these serve all of the hospital, as well as patients at end of life who are nursed at home, but go in for treatment of their symptoms.
‘Taking 30 beds out of the trust’s area will leave a massive shortfall in both palliative care and rehabilitation beds.
‘Time is running out for the campaign, as the lease on the Whalton Unit expires in October, by which time next winter will be approaching.
‘If you support the campaign for a full public consultation, and would like to help in any capacity, please email the campaign at whaltonunit firstname.lastname@example.org
‘You can also still sign our petition at the Mackay family shop in Bridge Street.’