Campaigners fear for the future of a rehabilitation unit after health bosses admitted they want to reduce the number of beds used there.

Managers of the Heronwood and Galleon Unit in Makepeace Road, Wanstead, say they want to treat more patients at home and temporarily reduce the number of beds from 46 to 32.

Health campaigners fear the cuts could be become permanent and called for a proper consultation.

John Brouder, chief executive of the North East London Foundation Trust, which runs the unit with the Redbridge Commissioning Group, defended the proposed changes last night.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s health scrutiny committee, he said: “Many of the acute services nationally are in crisis and much of that has to do with the fact we have failed to invest in services that would prevent people going to hospital and help them getting out of hospital.”

Helen Zammett, of Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents’ Alliance, responded by saying she feared vulnerable elderly patients could suffer if they are sent home too soon and called for the public to have a say before any final decision was made.

A Redbridge CCG spokesman said: “No beds have been lost or cut at Heronwood and Galleon. We have made much needed improvements to the care patients receive so they recover more quickly and can go home sooner, which means we currently have some unused beds in the unit.

“As the improvements to the service continue – and new rehabilitation services in the community begin later this year – we expect to need fewer hospital beds. These beds will be on hand to help manage extra demand in the winter and any patient who needs a bed will get one. The service hasn't changed, but should clinicians propose changes in the future then they would be subject to a full public consultation as we have already said.”