Following the success of the 26-bed Bilberry Unit at Wharfedale Hospital, a second facility has now opened.

Located alongside the Bilberry Unit on the top floor of the hospital in Otley, the new Heather Unit will also have 26 beds and will double the capacity of the Trust’s partnership with Leeds-based provider Villa Care Group.

The beds will be for existing older patients who have finished their acute episode of care at St James’s University Hospital or Leeds General Infirmary and are medically fit for discharge from the Trust, but are waiting whilst assessment or packages of care are put in place by alternative providers.

As in the Bilberry Unit, nursing and care staff in the Heather Unit will be provided by Villa Care Group, while Leeds Teaching Hospitals therapy staff will also support patients.

Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “Since mid-January when we opened the Bilberry Unit at Wharfedale Hospital in partnership with Villa Care for a six-month period, it has made a significant contribution to helping us free up hospital beds at St James’s and Leeds General Infirmary for both emergency and planned admissions during a period of high winter demand.

“We have carefully reviewed the first month’s activity in conjunction with all our partners and there was unanimous agreement that the initiative has been a great success, exceeding expectations.  Feedback from patients and families about the facilities and care provided at Wharfedale Hospital has been extremely positive.

“I am delighted we can now extend this initiative as we have now managed to secure additional funding from the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group to open a further 26 beds in the Heather Unit, to be provided in the ward next door to the Bilberry Unit on the same terms, and doubling the overall capacity to 52 beds.

Howard Taylor, Managing Director of Villa Care Group said: “Everyone at Villa Care is pleased to with the success of the Bilberry Unit at Wharfedale and this latest expansion. With our partners at the Trust we have made significant progress on the project and are delighted at the performance levels and the success of this innovative programme.

“The expansion is a result not just of the performance levels achieved but also the hard work of all Villa Care and Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ staff and management. We now all look forward to the continued success of the expanded unit and serving the needs of all the patients who can benefit from their experience at Wharfedale Hospital.”

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