Reporter: Laura Wild
Date online: 08 June 2011
Past and present members of staff at a gathering to mark the end of the Children's Ward
Past and present members of staff from the Children’s Ward at Rochdale Infirmary have joined together to mark the end of an era, ahead of the ward’s closure at the end of the month.
Doctors and nurses gathered for a buffet lunch, on a day they described as “sad” for Rochdale.
The Children’s Ward will close on 25 June and will transfer to a temporary ward at the Royal Oldham Hospital until a new super centre in Oldham is ready.
Staff spoke about their concerns and views about the move, all of them wished to remain anonymous. The general consensus was one of disappointment and disbelief.
One staff member said the decision made by the Pennine Acute Trust to close the ward and move to the Royal Oldham Hospital was “wrong.”
Another added: “Rochdale will be left in dire straights. In a couple of years they will want to re-open it.”
Another said: “What a waste.”
Staff also raised concerns about how the people of Rochdale will access the hospitals in neighbouring Bury and Oldham.
One staff member said: “This is totally financially driven; it is the people of Rochdale who will lose in the end.”
Staff described the closure as “scandalous,” “worrying” and “heartbreaking.”
Councillor Jean Ashworth, who worked on the ward until her recent retirement, described the closure as “criminal.”
She said: “I could cry.
“They are making a huge mistake.
“There is no way Oldham can accommodate what Rochdale has to offer.
“It has provided the best service and the best care and it has just been destroyed.”
Paediatrician, Sue De-Silva, worked on the ward for 29 years, she said: “I feel really sad. I don’t know what the Rochdale people are going to do when their children fall ill.
“They will have longer distances to travel and lives will be endangered.
“I am sad and disappointed. It is the wrong decision. It will be devastating to the population here.”
She added: “This isn’t a party, this is a wake.”
One parent who has been familiar with the ward and staff for several years said the impact the closure will have on families is “massive.”
She said: “I think it is horrendous, this will have a massive impact on families with children.
“I don’t think they have thought this procedure through.
“Rochdale is being hit all ways and the children can’t talk for themselves.
“In this day and age this shouldn’t be happening. Have they calculated how many people are having children and will need this service?
“It is a frightening worry.”
A spokesman for The Pennine Acute Trust said: “In February 2011, the strategic health authority, NHS North West, decided that the Making it Better programme and the planned changes and improvements to maternity and paediatric services, which were originally agreed in 2007, should go ahead.
“Our doctors and midwives are currently in the process of making detailed plans to enable the safe relocation of inpatient maternity and paediatric services from Rochdale Infirmary to the Royal Oldham Hospital on 25 June.
“An important part of this planning is keeping staff, patients and the public informed. Our midwives will ensure expectant women are kept informed of whether changes to local services will affect them during their pregnancy.
“All other maternity services, including outpatient antenatal care and scans, will stay the same and remain at Rochdale Infirmary.
“The existing maternity ward and facilities and children's wards at The Royal Oldham Hospital are being refurbished and expanded to allow the enhanced services for women and children from Oldham, Rochdale and surrounding districts to be provided until the new purpose-built development is completed in December 2012.
“From 25 June 2011, there will no longer be children’s inpatient services or a children’s ward at Rochdale Infirmary.
"Children who need to stay in hospital because of injury or illness will be admitted to one of the other hospitals run by The Pennine Acute Trust at either The Royal Oldham Hospital, North Manchester General Hospital or Fairfield General Hospital in Bury or another specialist hospital where appropriate."