The Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital will shut by the end of February - months earlier than planned - the Advertiser now understands.
The ward, which looks after elderly patients with mental health problems, was originally scheduled to close in 2020, however last month health chiefs revealed this could happen as early as May next year.
North Derbyshire and Hardwick clinical commissioning groups (CCG) voted in July to permanently close the Spencer Ward and reduce the number of beds on Fenton Ward in a controversial cost-cutting exercise aimed at reducing hospital admissions and providing more care for patients in their own homes.
Last month a spokesperson for Better Care Closer to Home, which is behind the proposals, said: “Nothing will change on Spencer Ward until we are satisfied that the Dementia Rapid Response Team (DRRT) is operating as a suitable and high quality alternative, which we anticipate will be in May 2018.”
The new system will see an on-call DRRT will operate county-wide between 8am an 8pm, with acute admissions made to Walton Hospital in Chesterfield.
High Peak MP Ruth George said she now understood the Spencer Ward would not remain open past the end of February.
“This is truly sad news and my heart goes out to all the staff who received this blow so close to Christmas,” she commented.
“You can’t blame people for looking for other jobs or for applying to become part of the DRRT; they have families themselves they need to look after too, but it is a tragedy we may lose some wonderful healthcare professionals who have chosen to step away from caring because of this news.”
Local health campaigner Keith Horncastle said: “The staff on the Spencer Ward have been a marvellous asset to Buxton and the High Peak for 30 years and will be sorely missed when the ward closes.
“I see nothing wrong with people being cared for in the community and they should be in a place which is familiar to them.
“I just hope the DRRT - which should be more of a support group for those with dementia - will be up to the challenge to care for our loved ones, and that when acute admissions are made there is the help and support to get people back home as quick as possible because relatives will not be able to visit as often in Chesterfield as they would in Buxton.”
Click here to read Better Care Closer to Home response to the closure.