Concerns over controversial plans to close community care beds throughout Staffordshire have been passed over to Secretary of State for Health after a 10,000 people signed a petition for the decision to be ditched.
Staff at Bradwell Hospital, which provides care mainly for people recovering from illnesses and some terminally-ill patients, have been told that 64 of the community care beds are due to be closed on December 18 in a bid to encourage more people to be treated at home.
However, campaigners are concerned about the quality of care packages available to people once the beds have been cut.
Staffordshire County Council met with accountable officer for the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Marcus Warnes to discuss the closures of Bradwell, Cheadle, Heywood and Longton hospitals.
Mr Warnes said: “The hospitals are full of people waiting for something else.
“To be blunt, money is an issue. We tend to fill capacity rather than needs and we are spending three times as much than we need to.”
Staffordshire County Councillor Charlotte Atkins, who represents Leek South, expressed major concerns about Warnes’ comments.
She said: “I find it deeply insulting that you call the care beds ‘waiting rooms’. I am not interested in the blame culture only the safety and wellbeing of patients.
“I do not understand the time span of this, just as winter is approaching you are closing the care beds without any care package in place. Patients are going to be the ones who suffer.”
The Save Bradwell Community Hospital campaign group brought forward a petition to Staffordshire County Council with 10,270 signatures asking for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to get involved.
This follows the recent spate of closures of community care beds in Longton, Cheadle, Heywood and Bradwell.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Councillor Allison Gardner, who represents Chesterton, said: “We need to fight for the heart and soul of our community with the NHS, this is something that is happening now and needs to be stopped.”
Paula Clark, chief executive of Bradwell Hospital, said: “The Trust recently reached an agreement with North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs where a gradual reduction of available beds at Bradwell Hospital will take place until 18 December 2016 and we are on track for this.
“The Trust continues to be extremely busy and it’s crucial that we continue to explore all available options and resources during this period to help relieve pressures in other areas of the Trust.”
A decision is expected on the permanent closure of the community care beds in the new year.