The Westmorland Gazette has always lobbied and campaigned on behalf of Westmorland General Hospital at Kendal. Our aim has been to protect services that exist at the hospital and, where possible, to bring further services to the site.

Without the hospital, residents in South Lakeland would need to travel long distances to Furness General Hospital at Barrow or the Royal Lancaster Infirmary - unacceptable at a time of illness and stress.

With that in mind the newspaper has this week revived its Hands Off Our Hospital campaign in the wake of the possible long-term closure of the Kentmere Ward, the adult in-patient mental health care ward at WGH. The 12-bed ward cares for people with acute psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and severe depression.

Two weeks ago Cumbria Partnership Trust announced the ward was to close from the end of June following a critical report from the Care Quality Commission, which said the ward was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to small and poorly furnished rooms, a lack of access to outdoor space and gender segregation guidelines not being met.

Four additional beds would be provided at FGH, along with more community services to support patients.

Last week the trust stepped back a little, saying the closure would only be ‘temporary’ while a public consultation was held and that there was a ‘possibility’ inpatient services would remain at Kendal.

The Gazette’s campaign urges the trust and its partners to do all it can to retain the ward or to provide an alternative site for the services at WGH.

Closure of the ward will undoubtedly cause distress and hardship to the patients and their families. Those using Kentmere are vulnerable and should not face the prospect of having to move to Barrow or possibly further afield. Support services, including those provided by the third sector and families, need to be close by.

We urge readers to sign our coupon to show health bosses the strength of public feeling.