Carers’ Joy At Centre Plans

Carers of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have welcomed plans to create a specialist NHS centre.

Dozens of people attended a public consultation meeting yesterday about the proposal to close two hospital wards for the elderly to make way for a new complex at Bucknall Hospital.

The meeting at support group Approach’s drop-in cafe was designed to give carers the opportunity to voice their opinions about the plans.

Their comments will form part of a report to be submitted to all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the region, in November.

Rose Watkin, of Abbey Hulton, is a carer for her husband John, aged 73, who has Alzheimer’s.

The 59-year-old said: “I think in theory it sounds like a very good thing because at the moment everything is spread around. So to have all the services in one place would be excellent.

“The only reservation I have about this proposal is that it’s not definite yet – it might not go through.

“But I would certainly welcome it. Carers need things to be a bit more simple.”

Jayne Wemyss, of Trentham, has been a full-time carer for her 82-year-old mother Mabel Williams – who suffers with Alzheimer’s – for the past eight years.

She said: “I think the proposals are excellent, and sound very positive.

“The new centre would help a lot of people in the future.

“At the moment the service is fragmented and needs to be based in one place in order for improvements to take place.”

As part of the proposals two wards containing a total of 51 beds at Bradwell and Cheadle hospitals will be axed – one of which has been temporarily closed since April.

Addressing those gathered at the Approach centre in Shelton yesterday, PCT joint commissioning manager Jane Tipping explained that the new complex would provide care for people with specialist needs.

She said: “We want to create a specialist centre at Bucknall Hospital which will include a ward of 20 beds, and will deal with people who have the most extensive and challenging needs.

“Currently there is nowhere they can be properly or appropriately cared for.”

Hilary Weekes, general manager for specialist services for the Combined Healthcare Trust, said: “I am quite excited about this proposal and hope the consultation will be successful.

“The centre will give us the opportunity to have a multi-disciplined approach towards the management of complex behaviour.

“There will also be an increase in staffing levels, including two specialist nurses who will work within the centre and will liaise with nursing and residential homes by way of support.

“In addition we hope to increase our community day services.”

The period of formal consultation will end on October 19.

The final two public meetings are being held on September 17, at the Stoke Civic Centre, at 9.45am; and on September 18 at the WRVS, on Charles Street, Hanley, from 2pm.