Campaigners have refuted claims that their call for a full public consultation about the Whalton Unit’s future is party political.
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: ‘Concerns have been raised about the fact that patients, often long-stay, on Ward 8 have to pay up to £10 a day for television access, when it was free at the self-contained unit at Morpeth.
‘We agree that whilst this is not a clinical issue, it is the sort of thing that can make a huge difference to the quality of life of an elderly patient who is in bed for most of the day and that £10 a day is a lot of money.
‘A full Sky TV package, with all channels including sport, is £45.99 per month.
‘We are still waiting to hear from North of Tyne Mayoral candidates Charlie Hoult (Conservative) and, John Appleby (Liberal Democrats).
‘Jamie Driscoll (Labour) has been very supportive, which has led to allegations that this campaign has been party political.
‘We have been at pains to refute these allegations and have been in touch with the candidates, but so far only Jamie Driscoll has offered a meeting.’
‘The petitions are continuing to grow and we are now in excess of 2,000. The paper petition can still be signed in The Office pub.
‘We would like to thank Andy Cottam for his sterling work in publicising the petitions, and keeping us all informed about their progress.’