A HOSPITAL that has cared for people on Tyneside for more than a century is to be closed, health bosses have announced.
The Walkergate Hospital in Newcastle has been open since the 1880s, but with its elderly care facilities deemed no longer appropriate, the decision has been made to shut the two remaining wards at the Benfield Road site.
Those earmarked for closure are Ward Four, which provides long-term palliative care services for patients with chronic conditions, and Ward Three, where patients receive help with rehabilitation and support with washing, dressing and taking medication.
The closure move by bosses at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will see 10 elderly Ward Four patients, many of whom have been cared for at the hospital for several years, moved to nursing homes.
The decision has been criticized by Brian and Eileen Clark, who campaigned against Walkergate’s closure 10 years ago after Eileen’s mother Jane was cared for at the hospital.
Eileen said: “We knew the hospital would have to close eventually but it is a shame. We were assured there would be a facility for the elderly, mentally infirm on the site and I hope this is still the case as people need this type of service.”
In 2005 the hospital’s fate once again was believed to be hanging in the balance after a long-running review into its services with Newcastle Primary Care Trust telling bosses at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust it no longer intended to get their services for older people from them.
Doctors at the hospital trust assured patients there were no plans to close Walkergate and any closure would follow a consultation.
The last two wards at the hospital will now close in the summer with services for Ward Three patients being moved to the Freeman Hospital.
It is thought staff from both wards will move to other roles at other hospitals.
A Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “For some time now plans have been progressed to bring about alternative arrangements that serve to reflect the environment we should be providing either in the community or in the hospital.
“The reaction to change is understandable but what is to happen over the coming months is about overall quality improvement and for no other reason.”