Health bosses have acknowledged local concerns about a top-rated rehab service leaving the borough but remain optimistic about the move.
Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is working to oversee the transfer of the neurological Taylor Unit from Leigh Infirmary to Trafford.
Bosses have admitted the move is deeply unpopular with Leigh residents, with transport top of the list of concerns.
Fears have been repeatedly raised that many relatives will not be able to get to Trafford to visit their loved ones, potentially hindering their rehabilitation.
However, the CCG says discussions are ongoing on the issue and stressed that the Manchester-based hospital is best placed to provide the service from April 1
Following reports that suggested many of the current Leigh staff were unwilling to make the move the CCG has now said a “significant” number of existing employees will transfer across.
The commissioning group also stressed there would not be job losses, with those unable to travel to Trafford being found other roles within Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust.
The CCG says its priority now is to make the switch to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MUFT) as painless and smooth as possible and ensure the high standards which have ben universally recognised at the Taylor Unit are maintained until the day the doors shut.
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and CCG chair, said: “The governing body understands that this decision is unwelcome for some patients, families, carers and staff – especially for those that live in and around Leigh.
“This was a difficult decision and one the governing body spent a long time discussing, particularly around the impact of travel.
“We have asked for further work to be done to set out what support is already available and what extra we might possibly need to do to support those families and carers who are most affected by this decision.
“I am really pleased that so many of our specialist and highly-qualified staff have decided to transfer with the unit and that local patients will continue to get the benefit of their expertise, which will help us make sure that our patients continue to get high-quality services.
“I am confident that Trafford Hospital is the right place for this service going forward and that it will mean that our patients get access to the best quality care in an appropriate, fit-for-purpose ward.”
The CCG has been searching for a new home for the rehab service, which helps patients who have suffered complex brain injuries, since WWL gave notice it could no longer run it.
A search for a new location within the borough proved fruitless.
That led to Trafford being preferred as the only provider which could set up within the agreed time scale.
The new unit serves patients from both Wigan and Bolton, with only residents from Leigh expressing strong objections to the move on travel grounds during the public consultation.
The issue surfaced again at the governing body’s January meeting, with senior leaders agreeing to look at options for travel after the possibility of interim bus services between the borough and Trafford was raised.
It is understood, however, that the CCG is wary of setting a precedent...
The CCG believes there are numerous benefits to the move, including 24-hour medical cover on site, a larger and more modern ward environment (although whistleblowers have questioned this) and more flexibility on visiting times and parking.
The unit will still be a 20-bed operation but will be next to Trafford’s existing 30-bed neuro-rehab unit with access to the staff already there.