A mental health trust has criticised NHS England’s decision to press ahead with the full closure of a learning disabilities hospital in Lancashire.
Calderstones Hospital in Whalley is now run by Mersey Care Foundation Trust, which wanted to retain the low secure accommodation and services on the current site.
NHS England, the main commissioner for the hospital, has confirmed its intention to close the site as part of its Transforming Care programme, to move learning disability patients out of large inpatient facilities. This followed a consultation process.
There are 135 patients currently at Calderstones, many of whom have complex care needs.
In a statement, Mersey Care said: “Mersey Care both understands and supports the objectives of Transforming Care, the NHS England report into the future of learning disabilities, and welcomes the opportunity to develop new services in co-production with our highly trained staff.
“The trust supports service modernisation but we do not believe that moving our low secure services from Whalley is a decision that is cost effective at a time when NHS finances are already under great pressure and scrutiny.
“As such, we are disappointed that NHS England will no longer commission services from our specialist learning disability site in Whalley. This would also result in the closure of a site rated as good in the Care Quality Commission’s last report.”
Patients in the Calderstones’ medium secure units are due to be relocated to a new facility in Maghull, but there is uncertainty around the capital funding required to build new low secure units.
Around £63m of capital funding is needed to close all the services at Calderstones, the consultation document says.
No timeline has been published by NHS England, though it said last year that it would aim to close Calderstones within three years.
Michael Gregory, regional clinical director for NHS England in the North, said: “These plans represent a real step forward in terms of how we support people in the North West who have a learning disability, autism or both, and their families, in the future.
“Nobody doubts the dedication of the staff at Whalley, but for too long we have been too reliant on institutional in-patient care, often for unnecessarily long periods of time.”
A spokesman for NHS England said: “Staff will be offered opportunities for further training and development so that individuals and teams can be redeployed across the new services.”
28 March 2017