A REHABILITATION ward for elderly people at St Luke's Hospital is being shut until later in the year.
Outraged relatives hit out at the move by hospital chiefs.
One woman said: "I think it stinks."
The 26-bed unit at the Crosland Moor hospital receives elderly patients who have been treated at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and helps them recover before they return home.
Many patients also make return visits, either because they have a recurring illness or because they are not getting enough care at home and need to be referred to a residential home.
Hospital bosses today said the closure was a temporary measure over summer.
Staff were called to a meeting last Wednesday and were told the ward would close.
One insider - who did not want to be named - said staff were told the ward had to shut so that more clinical beds could be created at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
She said eight patients have already been moved out of the ward.
She claimed patient's relatives were not notified about the transfers.
"It looks as if elderly people are going to go straight home from hospital, with no help, or be assessed and put into care homes.
"Lots of homes are being closed or done up, so where are these patients going to go?"
An NHS trust spokesman said: "The ward will be temporarily closing over the summer/autumn period to take into account the quieter period in terms of activity.
"In previous years temporary reductions have taken place in other areas of the trust to accommodate ward upgrades.
"Patients will continue to receive the care they need in the same way as before."
Staff had been consulted and would be redeployed, he said.
"We expect to reopen the ward towards the end of the year when activity is traditionally much higher," said the spokesman.