THE closure of a ward which supported older people’s rehabilitation at a community hospital in East Dorset has left residents “terribly disappointed”.

Beds at St Leonards Hospital’s Fayrewood Ward have been transferred to Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Other services at St Leonards will continue for the time being, but the wider Dorset Clinical Commission Group (CCG) proposals include eventually closing the facility entirely.

Jacqueline Moss, chairman of Community Friends which was formally Friends of St Leonards, said the group were very upset with the situation.

“The service is going to be so missed,” Ms Moss said.

“You can’t get care anywhere else like you did at St Leonards.

“When the plans were announced to close the hospital we were all terribly disappointed.

“It is a vital part of the community and it will be a big loss.

“As a group we raised a lot of money and were able to provide some key equipment for the ward over the years.”

To continue their work with the wider community, the Friends group decided to rename and set up a new constitution to provide support for residents in Ferndown and St Leonards.

On the closure of Fayrewood Ward, a spokesperson for Dorset HealthCare, said: “The transfer is part of a wider plan to improve access to health services in Dorset, announced following the Clinical Services Review last year.

“It will maintain the excellent service provided by Fayrewood Ward staff over many years in a nearby location, while also providing patients with the much greater range of services available at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital site.

“Patients will also no longer incur an ambulance transfer to an alternative hospital for on-going rehabilitation.

“Training and induction for staff transferring has been taking place to ensure the ward will be ready to open and welcome patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital on Wednesday, 3 October.

“Other healthcare services will continue at St Leonards Hospital for the time being.”

Details on when the overall closure of the hospital will take place are yet to be released. Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope had been outspoken against the proposals.

“I don’t think anybody says the answer to the health service is fewer beds, but that’s what these transformation plans entail,” he said.