‘Start of a process’ as board agrees to close Knapdale Ward

Campaigners make their views known ahead of January's IJB meeting
Campaigners made their views known ahead of January's IJB meeting

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The only specialist inpatient dementia ward in the region is to be closed to patients – but only after a sustainable community care alternative is in place according to health chiefs.

The controversial move to close Knapdale Ward in Mid Argyll Hospital has been bitterly opposed by unions, nursing and medical staff, patients’ relatives and councillors among others, with health managers accused of failing to properly consult on the community care model.

Under the new plans, dementia patients requiring inpatient care will be placed within the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS area.

Argyll and Bute Integration Joint Board (IJB), which oversees health and social care in the region, was presented with a report based on a recent public consultation.

Prepared by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), the consultation report in front of board members concluded a majority of those consulted across Argyll approved the ward’s closure and a move towards enhanced community care. All, that is, except Mid Argyll, which was not only opposed to the closure plan but critical of the decision-making process.

Opponents of the ward’s closure favour an alternative which would see an enhanced community care model introduced, but with Knapdale Ward upgraded to include dementia inpatient beds, day care and respite facilities and a base for community care staff.

At the IJB meeting on Wednesday March 25, the only dissenting voice among voting members was chairman Keiron Green, who voiced his opinion that the time for this kind of decision was not in the midst of the coronavirus public health emergency.

But his board colleagues agreed with the motion, proposed by Councillor Gary Mulvaney, that the HSCP should proceed with its plans, noting a steering group would guide the direction of the new model.

The closure of Knapdale Ward is expected to take a year or more to implement and, as one board member asserted, is ‘just the start of a process’.