STRUCTURE: The trust’s board has backed proposals to maintain the temporary closure of an intermediate care ward that has been closed since September, minutes show.

Presenting the proposals for continued temporary closure of the Tatton Ward at Knutsford and District Community Hospital, East Cheshire Trust strategy director Val Aherne said the ward should “remain temporarily closed until at least January 2012” while strategic planning for health and social care in the area “remains ongoing”.

Her report to the June 30 meeting stated: “There is commitment and a proposed process from the GPs in Knutsford to return to the need to resolve the strategic health and social care issues of Intermediate Care and modernisation of the buildings for the provision of primary care…

“The outcome may be as early as the end of September 2011 but given the complexity of the agenda and the need to involve stakeholders I think we should assume an outcome no earlier than the end of January 2012.”

It added: “The financial pressures of the trust are higher in 2011-12. The temporary closure of the ward has contributed to financial savings of approx £200,000 per year. At present we are paying 50 per cent rent of £86,000.”