A COMMUNITY campaigner has slammed health bosses over the temporary closure of the rehabilitation facility at the Larkfield Unit.

Tommy Rodger, secretary of Port Glasgow West Community Council, says he feels very strongly about the controversial decision.

His late wife Helen was a patient there in 2004 to recuperate from major brain surgery carried out at the then-Southern General Hospital.

She remained in the neurological unit for six weeks before being transferred to Inverclyde Royal.

Tommy, 71, of North Road in Port Glasgow, said: "After a brief stay in the IRH, my wife was then transferred down to the Larkfield Unit’s rehabilitation ward.

"Over the following months, she underwent numerous therapeutic processes overseen by dedicated doctors, therapists, and nursing staff.

"She had to re-learn how to walk, eat and drink plus various other co-ordination functions.

"Sitting in on some of her therapy sessions, I was amazed at the patience and dedication shown by the staff.

"Thanks to these marvellous people, in our local hospital facility, my wife was discharged three months later and went on to have many years of quality life and precious time spent with her children and grandchildren."

Tommy said another factor in his wife's recovery was the fact that her care was local and her family could easily visit her.

He said: "My wife's recuperation and recovery was in part, due to having her family around her.

"Many members of family and friends were able to visit her regularly.

"If this service is to be delivered outwith Inverclyde in Paisley or Glasgow then public transport links and costs will be prohibitive to many."

Helen passed away in 2011, aged 61, as a result of the tumour but Tommy is certain she was given those extra years because of the surgery and the excellent rehabilitation care afterwards.

The Tele revealed last week how NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde was closing the award-winning local unit due to a shortage of doctors.

Health campaigners are angry that it will be merged with the stroke ward but bosses insist the move is necessary to ensure the safety of patients.

Officials say that it will be a three month temporary switch but opponents say they are sceptical about that pledge.

Community councillor Tommy said: "Scottish Government statutory guidelines include a requirement of service providers to inform community councils of any plans to alter or withdraw services.

"We have had no communication from the health board with regard to this ‘temporary’ closure of a valuable local service.

"Based on continual cuts over the years to the IRH, the Inverclyde community have the right be sceptical.

"We believe that the IRH, and Larkfield Unit, are facing a death by a thousand cuts, until it becomes unviable.

"Port Glasgow West Community Council will now be extending a new invitation to the chairperson and chief executive of the health board to attend our meeting in August to answer the concerns of our community."