Four Central Hawke's Bay doctors have come out strongly against a decision to close the CHB Health Centre ward for two weeks over Christmas and New Year.
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board recently announced the decision, which local doctors say was made without consultation.
Doctors Andy Daun, Mohan Gaddipati, Paddy O'Brien and Bob Stephens published a statement in the Saturday edition of Hawke's Bay Today calling on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board to reverse the decision.
In their statement the doctors said the decision was made without any consultation with the local general practitioners, the registered nurses who work in the ward or the Health Liaison Committee, which represents the local community.
They say closure of the ward will significantly affect CHB residents, who will have to travel to Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings to visit and support family members needing in-patient care - patients who would usually have been cared for in the CHB Ward.
"In addition, primary care will be affected by not having the registered nurses in the ward, who play a pivotal role in initially triaging and at times treating CHB residents needing after-hours medical attention."
Reaction from CHB residents has been swift and strident, with many taking to Facebook to support the doctors and decry the DHB's decision.
"They are always complaining about lack of bed space in Hastings therefore they should be using our community hospital 24/7, 365 days a year," said one resident on social media.
"Where has compassion for family life gone. It is hard enough for some people to be with ailing loved ones without making it harder and more stressful."
Comments centred around the travel to get to Hastings, added stress on families, particularly the elderly, and the need to fully use the ward and beds at the CHB Health Centre.
Support is also flooding in for the staff at the CHB Health Centre about the level of care patients receive.
A spokesperson for the Hawke's Bay District Health Board said the DHB reduced bed numbers and non-essential services over Christmas to allow staff to take annual leave.
"This means the DHB can match resources and staffing to critical care areas such as the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit."
The issue with the in-patient ward in CHB being closed will be discussed at meeting later in the week.
It had not closed for Christmas in the past, however was closed for the nurses' strike earlier in the year.