Health chiefs are planning a new model of care following the closure of a 20-bed inpatient unit in Berkhamsted.
The Chiltern Ward, which cared for adult rehabiliation patients at Gossoms End Community Hospital, was closed temporarily in October last year.
But now the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Hertfordshire Community Trust (HCT) are proposing the closure is made permanent and that care is moved into the community.
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, said: “We are excited to be exploring new ways of working to help keep people out-of-hospital and treated in their own homes where possible.
“There is good evidence to show that people respond and recover better when in their own home environment.
“We have some great opportunities on the horizon with other healthcare providers in the county.”
Dacorum Patients’ Group has previously aired concerns that the closure was financially motivated, but the CCG has denied that accusation.
A spokesman for Herts Valleys CCG, said: “The proposal to permanently close the 20 in-patient beds at Gossoms End is absolutely not financially driven.
“The proposal reflects the new pathway for older people where more care is delivered for people in their own homes, with a reduced need for them to have an in-patient stay in a health service facility.”
They say the decision to close is down to the lack of staff, meaning patients would not get the care they need.
The spokesman said: “The unit was temporarily closed on the grounds of patient safety as a result of difficulties in recruiting to fill vacant posts.
“We are clear that we cannot re-open the unit as it cannot be safely staffed.”
Health chiefs also say the unit’s capacity ‘exceeded the need’ locally, as out of the 230 admissions between September 1 2014 and September 30 2015, just 18 per cent of patients lived nearby.
HCT owns the community hospital and runs nine NHS services from here, which are digital retinal screening, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, heart failure, integrated community teams, podiatry, children’s speech and language therapy, health visiting and children’s eye services.
These services will continue to run as normal and are not affected by the proposed changes to the in-patient unit.
Bosses are asking encouraging more patients to fill out a survey on the proposals before this Friday (September 9).