Published: 06:00, 18 August 2019
| Updated: 10:44, 19 August 2019
A ward at a care facility has been mothballed for more than a year because NHS and county council bosses are conducting a "bed review".
A member of staff at the Plummer Lane site, who KentOnline has chosen not to name, revealed the ward is lying idle because of red tape.
Patients looked after at West View, which has a total of 60 beds, are a mixture of those living with dementia, people on respite breaks and those in need of rehabilitation.
Harriet Powell’s 97-year-old mother, Meryl Turner, is recovering from cardiovascular surgery at Kent and Canterbury Hospital and has just been refused a place at West View.
Mrs Powell said: “I asked for a place for my mother at West View but faced a complete bureaucratic brick wall and it’s ghastly to think there are unused beds there in Tenterden, where she can be visited by friends.
“She’s been to West View three times before and she needs that halfway house between dependency at hospital and living at home.
“It’s a place where staff watch patients and check things like they are able to get themselves up and dressed and make a cup of tea without burning themselves.
“They can socialise and regain their independence and for my mother if she gets a place in West View it will make going home much easier for her.”
Former Tenterden town councillor Roy Isworth, a consultant urologist, who was behind a long-running campaign to address the partially-utilised East Cross clinic in Tenterden, has condemned the situation at West View.
Mr Isworth said: “It’s deplorable the beds are not being used.
“These type of beds are a halfway house between an acute bed and going home and people should be treated close to home.”
He also claimed the lower ground floor of West View was a “very large space” that should be converted into a ward instead of being used for meetings.
“The partitions could be removed and there are already lifts and lavatories so it would be easily adapted for patients,” he said.
“The idea that you have a vast space for meetings is absurd.”
Retired Ivy Court Surgery GP Raymond Crawfurd said of the ward closure: “I think it’s something that needs to be sorted out quickly so the ward can be open and used for patients.”
Tenterden town councillor Sue Ferguson first spotted Benenden West closed-off when visiting a relative at West View.
"Patients are suffering waiting for the NHS and KCC to make up their minds" - Cllr Sue Ferguson
She said: “Heads should be knocked together.
“It’s nonsense that the William Harvey is full up with patients and there are beds closed off at West View.
“Patients are suffering waiting for the NHS and KCC to make up their minds.”
Mrs Powell added: “I would like them to resolve this crisis and let the old folk who need the beds have them. It just seems a bit criminal that the beds are there but no one is allowed to take them up.”
KCC and Ashford CCG issued a joint statement explaining the closure.
A spokesman said: “The West View Integrated Care centre is a facility shared between Kent County and the NHS. The centre is split into four separate units of 15 beds providing a mixture of long term and respite care for frail older people, people living with dementia and NHS care.
“The Benenden West unit is not being used at the moment while the East Kent Community Beds Review is undertaken to establish how services can be best aligned to meet the changing needs of the local population.
“Despite Benenden West not currently being used, the overall number of patients receiving NHS care at West View has increased.
"Benenden East is now used as a “sub-acute” unit for patients who can be discharged from hospital but are not ready to go straight home as they need continued care and access to GPs.
“The rest of the centre continues to operate as normal.”
The ward will be reopened once the bed review has finished, but the spokesman did not give a date for its expected completion.