Call for answers over bed provision as petition against ward closures hits 3,000 signatures

Intermediate care beds on the Heronwood and Galleon Unit could be moved to King George Hospital. Pho

Intermediate care beds on the Heronwood and Galleon Unit could be moved to King George Hospital. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Answers have been demanded from health commissioners over controversial plans to close wards at Wanstead Hospital.

Redbridge Councillors last night voted unanimously to write to GP commissioners calling for more details over plans to close the Heronwood and Galleon units at the site.

A petition against the proposals with more than 3,000 signatures was also presented to the council at the meeting in Redbridge Town Hall.

Members passed a motion urging Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide “greater detail” about what would happen if more beds were needed.

Commissioners have proposed centralising Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham’s intermediate care beds – which provide rehabilitation after illness or operations – at King George Hospital, reducing the number from 140 to 40, with 21 contingency beds available if needed. Two community teams will also provide rehabilitation in other people’s homes.

The motion also called on the CCG to address heavy criticism of the CCGs’ consultation, which has come under-fire after the group refused to extend it by a full four weeks despite calls from campaigners and politicians.

But councillors clashed over the wording of the motion, with an eleventh-hour amendment being put in just before the meeting, passing with 34 votes to 24.

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It was initially tabled by Cllr Sue Nolan (Con, Snaresbrook), saying that unless a “suitable replacement” could be provided, beds should be kept open at Wanstead.

But Cllr Wes Streeting proposed changing the wording to instead call for details about what would happen if “demand for bed places exceeds supply”.

Cllr Hugh Cleaver (Lib Dem, Church End) said he thought it would be a “big mistake” to centralise beds at King George Hospital.

But Cllr Dev Sharma (Lab, Newbury) said the public’s affinity with Wanstead Hospital was stronger because it had been there longer than King George.

He told the meeting it was “reassuring” to hear services at Wanstead were being replaced by a centre of excellence.

“This is something we can welcome,” said Cllr Sharma, who is cabinet member for adult care and older people.

“We know people do not really want to go in to hospital.

“This would enhance rather than diminish the intermediate care for people.”

And Cllr Streeting said people were “always cynical when changes are proposed”.

The CCG will be publishing the results of the consultation Making Intermediate Care Better next month.