Campaigners say the financial crisis facing care home company Southern Cross means Wharfedale Hospital’s elderly ward must be re-opened.

The ward, judged surplus to requirements by Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and unneeded by NHS Leeds, was set to close at the end of July but was actually wound down last week. MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), however, has now written to NHS Leeds to ask if they will reconsider commissioning intermediary care beds at the hospital following the collapse of Southern Cross.

The company, the UK's largest care home operator, confirmed this week that all of its 80 landlords, running 752 homes, had decided to leave the group.

Support Wharfedale Hospital campaign co-ordinator Charlie McEwan said: “In the current situation there is a crisis of care which is facing many of our elderly.

“How can they justify closing a ward when any alternative provision is now under serious threat?

“Where will our elderly go? Who will care for them?

“There is a fantastic facility at Wharfedale which could provide intermediate care at an exceptionally high standard – why is it not being used?”

Mr Mulholland said: “Given the current financial crisis facing the Southern Cross homes in Leeds, it is a serious injustice to place an additional burden on our city’s elderly community by closing Ward 1. I have written to NHS Leeds to recommend a solution to the problem: keeping Ward 1 open at least until the Southern Cross crisis is resolved.

“This would prevent undue hardship for our elderly community, who have worked and paid taxes their whole lives, and must receive the medical support they deserve.

“I very much hope to hear back from NHS Leeds in the coming days to hear their opinion. Hopefully, the NHS and the Support Wharfedale Hospital campaign can work together to ensure all of our community’s older persons receive quality care.”