GPs have warned that thousands of residents could lose out on community care if a plan to shut hospital rehabilitation wards as part of a shake-up of services is scrapped. 

The Health Scrutiny committee at Redbridge council voted on Monday to ask Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt conduct an independent review into the plan to close Heronwood and Galleon ward in Makepeace Road.

Campaigners criticised the decision to reduce the number of rehabilitation beds across Redbridge, Havering, and Barking and Dagenham from 104 to between 40 and 61 at King George Hospital in Goodmayes.

But Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) believes a decision to delay or stop the planned changes, which include an expansion of care at home, would have consequences for patients, with dealys in care, less choice, worse outcomes and a loss of independence.

The group said the implementation of a new community treatment team, which will care for patients at home between 8am and 10pm, seven days a week, will provide better and more appropriate care.

Dr Anil Mehta, chair of the CCG, said: “Thousands of Redbridge residents could lose out if we delay or stop setting up the Community Treatment Team (CTT) permanently.

“These new services have helped more than 10,000 patients in the past year and, without that support, many of them would have ended up in A&E – which as we all know is already under considerable pressure – or needing more help from family and carers.

“Patients may be more likely to need social care services which we estimate could cost local people around half a million pounds extra per year.

“The decision to ask Jeremy Hunt to refer the matter for review is especially disappointing as it had already been announced publicly a week before last night’s meeting.

“Local GPs remain convinced of the case for changing intermediate care services.

“Patients are getting better care, they are recovering more quickly and they are very happy with the services.

“Under our proposals, anyone who needs a community rehab bed will still get one.

“Why would you want to stop that? A huge piece of work, planned by all health and social care partners in three boroughs – including Redbridge council – is now at risk of unnecessary delay or even being stopped altogether.”

In a new series on the NHS, the Guardian will feature experiences of patients, their families and staff of treatment provided across east London and west Essex. As A&Es continue to struggle with demand and politicians argue over the future of healthcare, we will publish first-hand accounts, features and news stories on the latest developments. We want to hear from you if you have something to say about your local hospital, GP surgery, or clinic. Click here for contact details of reporters covering your area. Alternatively, you can submit a story here.