Specialist mental health services which are due to be closed by NHS England have been rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission.

Following an inspection in March, the learning disability and autism services run from the formerly named Calderstones Hospital site in Lancashire have received the top rating from the CQC.

The site is due to close under NHS England’s Transforming Care programme, with the services re-provided elsewhere in the north west. The programme aims to move learning disability patients out of large institutional-type facilities.

The site was previously run by Calderstones Partnership Foundation Trust, which was taken over by Mersey Care Foundation Trust last year.

Calderstones had received severe criticism from the CQC following a previous inspection in 2014, but underwent a successful improvement programme before being rated “good” in 2016.

The CQC identified several outstanding practices at the trust in the latest inspection, noting that staff were “highly skilled at anticipating and deescalating behaviour that might have led to violence or self-harm”. It added that interactions between staff and patients demonstrated “personalised, collaborative, recovery oriented care planning and involvement”.

When the planned closure of Calderstones was confirmed in March, Mersey Care criticised the decision because it wanted to retain the low secure accommodation and services on the site. Around £63m of capital funding will be needed to provide facilities elsewhere.

But asked whether the closure of the Whalley site should now be reviewed in light of the CQC findings, chief executive Joe Rafferty told HSJ: “No….Because that question has been consulted upon and a decision reached.

“Therefore, we respect NHSE’s decision and the Transforming Care policy intention to do the right thing in terms of the least restrictive places for those with a learning disability.”

He said the CQC finding show that the “notion of a bad institution as a place, rather than the culture that it carries, needs to be rethought”, and are a “real testament to the skilled clinical and leadership team we have working in Whalley”.

The inspection of the secure learning disability and autism services included the main Calderstones site, as well as smaller facilities in Lancaster and Rochdale. It was part of a wider inspection of Mersey Care, which received an overall “good” rating.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “More than five years on from Winterbourne View, families and patient advocacy organisations finally want an end to outmoded institutional care, and as recommended by the Bubb review and the public accounts committee, that includes the closure and reprovision of the country’s last remaining isolated learning disability institution at Calderstones.”