Dementia patients could have to travel to Blackpool for treatment

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PEOPLE across Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley who suffer from dementia could have to travel to Blackpool for in-patient hospital care.

Health bosses have already said Burnley General Hospital will lose all its in-patient mental health services and the beds will be transferred to a new unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital over the next five years while, under new proposals, those needing specialist dementia care in hospital will have to travel 45 miles to Blackpool.

Before beds at Burnley General close, more psychiatric beds will initially be moved to Burnley from Blackburn until the new unit, which will serve the whole of East Lancashire, is complete.

But the reconfiguration plans have been slammed by Burnley councillors who say the most vulnerable members of society will suffer as a result.

In a report for the latest meeting of Burnley Council, deputy leader and Executive member for resources, Coun. Margaret Lishman, said the Burnley Clinical Commissioning Group had written to Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust to voice their worries.

“Mental health patients are going to get the majority of support in their own homes so only a very small number of patients will require specialist inpatient care,” she said.

“Blackpool is a very long way away and we are talking about relatives who are the same age. I think it’s unsatisfactory. They say this is going to be subject to detailed consultation.

“An in-patient dementia service based in Blackpool is unacceptable.”

Labour Coun. Shah Hussain said Burnley had already lost enough hospital services with the transfer of “blue light” emergency services to Blackburn.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said a public consultation would be launched in the New Year with residents urged to have their say.

“The proposals to improve dementia services aim to ensure the right range of care and support for people with dementia and their families is available in a community setting, as close to where they live as possible,” she said.

“This means making some changes to the balance of our existing services, especially to the way we provide highly specialist hospital services for the very small number of people with the most complex needs.

“It is proposed we continue to build upon a range of existing community services across the county to create a network of provision for people with dementia.

“As part of this network it is proposed that there will be a dedicated, fit-for-purpose and highly specialised hospital-based service for those with the most complex needs – who are generally detained under the Mental Health Act.

“Because the numbers of people who will require this service are so small, we propose it will run from one site in Lancashire.