HEALTHCARE campaigners in west Cornwall say they have "grave concerns" about the continued closure of Poltair Hospital – which has been shut to inpatients since October.
The community hospital was originally shut with no public announcement and when its closure was revealed it was initially described as a temporary measure.
But the hospital – and its 20-plus beds – have remained closed despite campaigning by West Cornwall HealthWatch and Cornwall councillors, including Mario Fonk.
Following a meeting with the board of NHS Kernow, the new GP-led commissioning group, in St Ives on Tuesday, Marna Blundy, of West Cornwall HealthWatch, said: "We are all aware of pressures on beds both at Treliske and West Cornwall hospitals, resulting in ambulance queues, trolley waits, and the cancellation of planned operations.
"This is, in part, due to the reduction in community hospital beds, over 50 across the county, over 20 of which are at Poltair Hospital, as well as two at Edward Hain Hospital in St Ives.
"Poltair has now been closed to inpatients for over six months. [Operator] Peninsula Community Health has given different reasons for its closure over this time: first it was due to a staff shortage, then due to problems with the building, then awaiting the results of a review into community provision in Penwith, which has now been published.
"We're not actually sure what is the current reason for closure; but the fact remains that Penwith is woefully short of community hospital beds, as well as having inadequate community care which would enable patients to be properly cared for at home.
"This means that some patients are inappropriately being kept at Treliske, or West Cornwall, or alternatively are being sent home sooner than they should be.
"We are seriously concerned about this.
"It is simply not acceptable to close needed beds without providing workable alternatives.
"This week's St Ives board meeting of NHS Kernow, the new GP-led commissioning group for the county, acknowledged that the current situation is unsatisfactory, but does not as yet have any plans for the future ready to be announced.
"We will continue to press for this issue to be at the top of the health agenda, until we can be satisfied that our elderly people can have confidence in these essential services."
Peninsula Community Health was unavailable for comment as The Cornishman went to press.