AN ONLINE petition opposing a council revamp to a Westhoughton care home has attracted more than 1,000 signatures in just two days.
Council chiefs responsible for the care changes at Winifred Kettle Community Care Centre came under fire at a residents’ meeting.
Margaret Asquith, director of adult services at Bolton Council, and her deputy Adrian Cox, faced questions at the Westhoughton with Chew Moor area forum on why intermediate and respite care services are being axed.
More than 100 people packed into the United Reformed Church.
The latest online petition on 38degrees.org is already more than half way towards its target of 2,000 supporters.
Ms Asquith insisted the changes, which will mean Winifred Kettle Community Care Centre no longer provides intermediate and respite care, were not “cost-cutting measures”.
Mr Cox said the moves will result in 3,500 fewer unnecessary hospital admissions in Bolton by 2017/18. Providing people with more care in their own homes is a chief council motivation behind the move, he said.
Mr Cox claimed that people were not using respite care services in the “numbers they used to” and that there are frequently empty beds at Winifred Kettle.
This was met with cries of derision from the crowd.
Mr Cox said: “The quality of care in all of our homes is really good and people from Westhoughton will still be able to access respite care. We are just asking that they do it four miles away.
“I cannot discuss precise details until they go before the Health and Wellbeing board in April.
“Bolton NHS wants to move some clinic services into Westhoughton and are working on how to achieve this.
“I would love them to use Winifred Kettle for that space although I can’t promise anything.”
Independent town councillor Jack Speight said: “It feels like you are doing this on the cheap and Westhoughton people are seeing their service shipped out to Bolton.”
Bolton Council’s deputy leader Cllr Linda Thomas, who lives in Westhoughton, added: “I’m from this area and soon I may have to rely on services such as this, but I would sooner receive care in my home.
“There is not an option other than this that I can see as we have to be up and running in changing how we deliver care by April 2015.
When asked by campaigner Gwendoline Parr where were all the people from Westhoughton who want these changes to be made, she said: “Well they are probably in hospital or waiting at home not able to get out to come tonight.”
The proposed changes will go before the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on April 19.
You can sign the petition here.