Some families affected by a controversial decision to shift a dementia care ward from Airedale Hospital to Bradford will have their transport costs funded, health bosses have confirmed.
Bradford District Care Trust said it has committed to paying for a “small number” of families affected by ward 24 being moved to Lynfield Mount Hospital in Daisy Hill.
The trust’s board has approved design plans for the state-of-the art dementia service at the Bradford site as part of the trust’s overall re-design of in-patient services to create a centre of excellence in older people’s mental health services.
But the plans, aimed at saving the trust £300,000, have met widespread opposition in Keighley and Craven, even leading to the formation of a campaign group to fight the move.
Members argued that some of the most vulnerable members of the community faced a 65-mile round trip to access services. Increased journey times for people living in Dales villages such as Grassington were also a concern.
Nicola Lees, deputy chief executive at the trust, said: “I understand there are concerns about the change and I have met representatives from the Ward 24 Action Group and local councillors to discuss their concerns.
“This is not a decision that was taken lightly. It was the subject of a public consultation in 2012. I will continue to work with the local community to provide assurances that this is the best option for people living with dementia. We have committed to fund appropriate transport costs for a small number of families affected by the move to a new site.
“Currently only 100 beds a year are used at our dementia care ward at Airedale Hospital. There is a greater emphasis on home-based treatment and support and prevention of admission.
“We serve 570,000 people across Bradford, Airedale and Craven, an area which spans 1,577 sq kilometres. It’s important we look at where and how this care is best delivered to the entire district.
“We do have an obligation to find cost savings, in line with every NHS organisation nationally, but this is not at the expense of safe, efficient and high-quality care.”
The new facility, which has 22 ensuite single rooms, was designed with the help of staff and service users.
Dr Gregor Russell, consultant psychiatrist and dementia lead for the trust, said: “It has been very important when designing this space to look at practical ways to help people be independent for as long as possible.”
No-one at the Ward 24 Action Group was available to comment.