Closure blow for Lancashire hospital

Calderstones Hospital
Calderstones Hospital

THE axe is to fall on Calderstones Hospital in Lancashire 10 months after it was slammed for “serious deficiencies” in its quality of care.

NHS England announced today that the 223-bed former secure mental health unit in the Ribble Valley, which is now the only NHS hospital in Britain specialising in learning disabilities, is to shut down as part of a review following the Winterbourne View care home abuse scandal.

Calderstones, opened a century ago, came in for heavy criticism in December from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after inspectors found poor cleanliness and hygiene on the wards, low levels of staffing and too many instances when patients were restrained in the face-down position.

The hospital offers secure and specialist NHS services to adult men and women with learning disabilities or other developmental disorders, who are often referred there after contact with the criminal justice system.

The closure announcement, which is subject to consultation, was made as part of a wider review that will see hundreds of people in England with learning disabilities cared for in the community rather than in hospital units.

The new plan predicts that as new community services are put in place, there will be a reduction of up to 50 per cent in the number of inpatient beds in England.

Other units will close alongside Calderstones, with more care transferred into people’s own homes or to other facilities.

The writing has been on the wall for the hospital near Whalley since a damning report by Sir Stephen Bubb was published in December suggesting large institutions were no longer the way forward.

Sir Stephen was the man who headed a major review after the Winterbourne scandal. Six people from the home in South Gloucestershire were jailed in 2012 and five more given suspended sentences.

Mersey Care NHS Trust intends to take over the Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which will cease to exist from next July.

As of the end of September, 2,595 people in England with learning disabilities and/or autism were in inpatient units, according to NHS England.

More than three-quarters of these had been in for longer than a year, despite the fact the number of discharges or transfers has increased by 38 per cent over the last year.

NHS England said inpatient beds are too often used as a long-term option due to a lack of community services, and they cost on average over £175,000 per year for “often inappropriate care”.

Under the new £45 million three-year plan from NHS England, the Local Government Association (LGA), and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), money will be invested in local housing to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.