A COMMUNITY has been left outraged at news a day unit will close permanently with no warning or public consultation.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has defended its decision to shut the facility and says the same services will still be provided but in a different way.
The Ruthin Hospital unit was first closed last June because of health and safety fears surrounding a damaged carpet.
Then at Christmas when the unit was still closed patients were told by BCUHB that the floor had been fixed, but that there was now a staff sickness problem.
Now the board has admitted that the day unit will not reopen at all.
“It’s awful,” said Ruthin town councillor Anne Roberts. “I’m so angry. It’s carers suffering, not just the patients. For some of them that’s the only respite they get.”
Last year the Free Press spoke to 80-year-old Bill Guidera, a former paramedic who suffers from Parkinson’s and attended the unit once a week to give his 75-year-old wife Kathleen, who cares for him 24 hours a day, a break.
“It’s not easy now,” said Kathleen, from Ruthin. “It was a day off a week. The staff there used to phone to make sure I was ok too.”
The way BCUHB handled the closure of the unit first caused anger last year.
It said adhesive used to glue the carpet to the floor could become unstuck and cause elderly people to trip, but it still allowed pregnant women to use the unit for ante natal classes.
Last month when the unit remained shut due to staff sickness it issued a statement which said: “We are working towards getting sufficient staff support back at the site to allow the refurbished unit to reopen as soon as possible.”
Ruthin councillor Huw Hilditch Roberts, chairman of the Ruthin Hospital Action Group, said: “This is a vital service for the people of Ruthin. I think it’s a horrendous blow for health services in the town. I’m looking for assurances that the hospital will not close completely.”
The news follows a controversial decision last month to close the minor injuries unit and X-ray services department at the hospital following a consultation.
Clwyd West AM and Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar expressed his disappointment about the future of the unit.
“My constituents have been strung along for months by the health board regarding the future of the day unit at Ruthin Hospital so news that a promise to reopen the facility is to be broken is very disappointing indeed,” he said.
A spokeswoman for BCUHB said: “Ruthin day services are not closing. We are however changing the types of services provided in the unit, to better meet the needs of the people who use this facility.
“This will include services such as assessment, mobility support and falls prevention, together with a more proactive approach to health promotion. These new services will be in place by April/May 2013.
“We are now caring in a number of different ways for the small number of patients (about eight per week) who used to attend the day hospital so that they can maintain their independence. We are providing support for these patients from district nursing teams, primary care and physiotherapy.
“The hospital matron is also working with colleagues from social services and the voluntary sector to develop a wider range of social opportunities for this group to ensure these patients are not socially isolated.”