THE equivalent of two wards were taken up in Warrington Hospital by elderly patients waiting for support in the community to return home.

The shocking situation in October was brought to light in a report released before Christmas at a time when health chiefs across the country are raising concerns over increasing pressure on hospitals this winter.

The report was not made public but was brought to the attention of the Warrington Guardian in the last week.

Warrington North MP Helen Jones said: “The huge cuts to local authority budgets, especially here in Warrington, are hitting social care. “The government must have known that this would lead to more hospital admissions and to people being kept in hospital longer than necessary.

“They chose to ignore this in their costly and unnecessary NHS reorganisation and we are all now facing the consequences. “ Simon Wright, chief operating officer at Warrington and Halton Hospitals said they were working hard to create systems on the wards to ease the situation.

He added: “Like many hospitals across the region, we have patients who would benefit from being cared for in a setting outside of the hospital once their core medical care is complete to aid them in their recovery.

“We call this transitional or sub-acute care.

“It provides care needs that can help a patient prepare for going back to their usual place of residence after surgery or medical treatment.

“We are working hard with local commissioners and providers to look at creative ways to support the establishment of these units.

“This will in turn release pressure on hospital beds.

“We have developed some systems to help, for example we have an intermediate care ward at Halton General which allows us to provide some of this kind of care for patients who are almost ready to return home.

“This helps ensure that our emergency patients being admitted to Warrington hospital can be cared for in the most appropriate ward for their needs.”

Warrington South Labour candidate Nick Bent said: "This is a growing worry for Warrington families.

"Tory-LibDem cuts hit Northern councils particularly hard and we see the terrible impact of this on some very vulnerable people."