A FRIGHTENED and frail pensioner faces months trapped in a hospital ward separated from her loving husband because there is no nursing home place available to her in Runcorn.
Eighty-year-old Joan Beamish was admitted to Warrington General Hospital after breaking her leg in a fall at her home in Beechwood, Runcorn.
Doctors said a month ago that Joan, who suffers from rhematoid arthritis, was fit enough to be discharged into the care of a nursing home but because no vacancies were available she has been left confined to bed in a public ward.
And Joan, who has been married to husband George for 55 years, will have to stay in hospital until a place is available and Halton council's social services chiefs have warned that could take months.
Now her angry daughter Janet Bell is demanding the council acts fast to end her mother's misery.
She said: 'My mother is becoming very depressed in the hospital. She sees dozens of people being admitted to the hospital and discharged after treatment and cannot understand why she is left behind every time.
'She has good days and bad days, but the thing that is upsetting her most is that she has no privacy and when my dad visits they can't even hold hands and chat properly because there is a bedside cabinet stuck between them.
'She is very miserable and just wants to move out of hospital. I know the council is having problems but it is humane to keep her like this, she is just existing in limbo.'
Mrs Bell hopes her mother will eventually be able to move into Beechcroft nursing home on Runcorn's Palacefields estate. This would enable George to visit her daily.
She said: 'My father is 83 and not well himself. At the moment we are struggling to get him to Warrington every day because they have hardly spent a day apart during their marriage and miss each other terribly.
'Social services has told us it meets weekly to allocate spare places in local homes but my mother is not a priority because she is not at risk in hospital.
'They are literally waiting for people to die in these homes so that a place can become available.'
A spokesman for Halton council's social care, housing and health directorate said: 'Due to measures we have had to take to manage the community care budget, we have insufficient funds to meet the demand for residential home care which means we have to prioritise cases.
'Places will be allocated but, unfortunately, people are having to wait a little bit longer than normal.'
In July, campaigners clashed with the council over a bid to sell off Croftwood Residential Home in Runcorn to the private sector.
The Palacefields home was earmarked for transferral as a way of saving £140,000 from the council's budget.