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Wharfedale Hospital

I have been a leading figure in January 2008, Greg continues to campaign against cuts at Wharfedale Hospitalsupport of Wharfedale Hospital. It is essential that local people are offered the best possible health services. We have top quality staff and modern facilities and we need a hospital that will serve the needs of the community. The hospital was officially opened in 2005 but faces an uncertain future despite continued protest from local people.

Since it was reported that one of two elderly care wards was to be closed down in 2006, I have helped to fight for more services and funding to be allocated to Wharfedale Hospital. I founded the Support Wharfedale Hospital campaign with support from the people of Otley and surrounding areas. In 2011, it was then announced that the remaining elderly care ward was also going to be closed and left unused. In both these decisions, I have been gravely concerned at the lack of public consultation ahead of reaching a verdict regarding Wharfedale that will affect the lives of our constituents.

I handed a letter of protest to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust arguing that if the ward ceased to be an NHS overnight facility, it would become no more than an outpatient clinic. Local people have fought tooth and nail to save Wharfedale Hospital and deserve to have access to the best possible standard of healthcare.

In the last year we have seen the ill- effects of ward closures at Wharfedale Hospital. Elderly patients are travelling to other hospitals in Leeds and those facilities are struggling with the extra demand. In Wharfedale, two wards lie empty and unused, yet two hospitals in Leeds are dealing with long waiting times and a shortage of beds.

It has also been revealed that Labour's Private Finance Initiative has cost taxpayers £64 million more than the initial valuation of Wharfedale Hospital at £17 Million. Labour has taken out contracts with the private sector to finance and operate Wharfedale Hospital, taking taxpayer money away from the NHS and straight to private businesses. Through this scheme, the taxpayer will be paying money back to private companies through concessions for the next twenty-five years.

In March 2015, I met with senior figures at Wharfedale Hospital to seek a commitment to the future of the hospital. I proposed that Wharfedale could take on an extra community service offering overnight care for the elderly. This possibility is now being explored by local NHS commissioning groups and could go some way to improving the services available at both Wharfedale and Leeds Hospitals.

Greg and Otley councillors have had meetings with health chiefs in Leeds, to discuss the reopening of two wards in the Wharfedale Hospital to provide intermediate care. The hospital can accommodate up to 40 beds for intermediate care and relieve pressure from inner city hospitals where there is pressure on acute beds.

Although there is agreement that the wards at Wharfedale Hospital should offer this care, it is yet to be implemented. Greg and the councillors are disappointed with the slow progress and continue to push for it to happen as soon as possible.