When Oxford Community Hospital closed in May because of a severe outbreak of clostridium difficile, the county’s health and scrutiny committee backed the move.

Its chairman, Dr Peter Skolar, rightly pointed out that patient safety was paramount.

But his support was given on the condition Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust looked for alternative premises in the city, which its head of community hospital development and intermediate care Jonathan Coombes duly promised.

Six months later, those plans have dried up, despite the PCT scouring the city for suitable locations.

Elderly residents – the most likely people to use community hospitals – are right to be concerned and lobby both the PCT and county’s health watchdogs over the U-turn.

The PCT is renting 10 private beds in the city and shipping out patients to other community hospitals to cope with the closure and PCT head of commissioning Heather Wicks says the ‘interim plans’ are working.

So why did pensioners’ groups, nurses and union members voice such vehement concern at yesterday’s health and scrutiny committee?

It is because they want NHS rehabilitative care provided locally.

They don’t want patients and their friends and family to have to travel outside the city to recover from acute care, whether it be from a stroke and bad fall, or sent to a nursing home.