OTLEY’S MP has visited the under-threat tea/coffee bar at Wharfedale Hospital.

The facility has been run by volunteers at both the current hospital and its predecessor for decades, but is due to end on Friday, March 29.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) says that decision has been made because it is ‘not sustainable’ to continue running both the coffee bar and the hospital’s own restaurant.

The RVS volunteers who run the popular service, however, have been baffled by the move - and have started a petition against it.

They have also enlisted the support of MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) who has written to the Trust urging them to reconsider, and is still pushing for an eleventh hour reprieve.

Mr Sobel, who visited the volunteers at the hospital on Thursday, March 21, said: “It is a great shame that the tea bar at Wharfdale Hospital is facing closure.

“Residents have been volunteering there for more than forty years and the hospital would not be the same without them.

“Following my letter to the Trust urging them to revisit this decision, I have met with some of the fantastic volunteers at the hospital and am now even more convinced that closing the tea bar would be a huge loss to our community.

“I am now writing to RVS and the Trust to request a meeting with myself and the volunteers where we can try and find a positive outcome that works for everyone involved, and keeps the tea bar up and running.”

The RVS-run facility is well used by patients and staff.

LTHT, however, has pointed out that the coffee bar area has been provided free of charge to the volunteers so that they can ‘provide a valuable service and...raise money for their charity’.

No funds from the bar go to the Trust, which says it has to now concentrate on the hospital’s purpose-built restaurant to ‘make the best use of public money’.

A petition opposing the closure - the online version can be found at www.change.org entitled Save the Royal Voluntary Service tea bar at Wharfedale Hospital Otley - has now been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Its supporting statement says: “We are very much needed and respected by the nursing staff and everyone who uses the facilities. We provide a very friendly, helpful, cheerful service which is convenient to those visiting the clinics, particularly those with mobility challenges.”

One of the petition’s signatories Rachel Hainsworth, explaining her reason for signing, said: “This is a needed and used service... please keep it for the sake of the people who use it and the volunteers.” Another, Jill Houghton, said: “It’s very much needed, they are really nice ladies who always serve you with a big smile.”