WARD two at Dunbar’s Belhaven Hospital will close – with patients moved into a “wound down” ward three.

A lengthy discussion took place at the East Lothian Integration Joint Board meeting in Haddington last Thursday to debate the future of ward two, which has 12 beds for patients admitted by their GP or in need of respite or palliative care.

Belhaven Hospital’s other two wards – ward one and ward three – are home to approximately 20 nursing home beds.

Eight voting members – made up of four councillors and four NHS non-executive members – were asked to select one of four options to decide the future of rundown ward two.

Members were recommended to support option three, which would see ward two “no longer used for clinical purposes”, with ward two services moved to ward three.

Ward two would then be changed to become “community staff offices”.

IJB members backed the recommendation with the exception of Councillor Stuart Currie, who opted for option four, which would have seen money spent to bring ward two up to modern standards – an option which had been preferred by Dunbar and East Linton GPs.

More than a dozen bullet points highlighted issues with ward two.

Problems ranged from corridors being cluttered with equipment due to a lack of storage to exposed pipes needing covered, and from windows needing replaced, with the putty holding the glass in place described as “very damaged and dirty”, to the current kitchen units not meeting appropriate standards.

The heating system needed upgraded, with freestanding heaters in the sitting room, which is not considered safe for elderly patients suffering from dementia.

Mr Currie questioned why the ward had been allowed to reach this state with no work being carried out. He said: “Why has work not been done on an ongoing basis, rather than wait till this football coupon list of issues?”

Members heard some work had been carried out but it was still felt there were “unacceptable risks to patients and staff arising from the layout and environment of the ward”.

According to a report from Paul Currie, strategic programme manager, NHS Lothian, the upgrades would cost more than £550,000, while the work would also require the closure of ward two for a minimum of eight weeks.

IJB member Alex Joyce was among those backing option three. He said there was “not a snowball’s chance in hell” of the NHS capital programme “coughing up” half a million pounds for a refurbishment of the ward.

But Mr Currie, the lone dissenting voice, added: “I heard what Alex said but I think that is an issue about money.

“I am trying to make a decision based on the interests of the community. I take the view option four is the best one to take.”

After the meeting, David Small, director of health and social care at East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, wrote to interested parties about the decision.

His letter said: “The plan is that the current ward three will be gradually wound down through ceasing new admissions for long-term care.

“Ward one will also stop taking new admissions for long-term care for a short time to create space for residents from ward three who still require care in Belhaven.

“We will also explore other options with residents and their families.

“We will only move people when we are sure that we are offering them something that meets their needs. There is no rush. At the right time we will transfer the patients and services from ward two.”