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England's only learning disability hospital to close

England's only specialist learning disabilities hospital will close in 2019 as part of move towards more community care and a reduction in long-terms inpatient stays.
Locked gate

England's only specialist learning disabilities hospital will close in 2019 as part of move towards more community care and a reduction in long-terms inpatient stays.

A consultation on the closure of Mersey Care Whalley Hospital, formerly known as Calderstones in Lancashire, received more than 1,000 responses.

Both Sir Stephen Bubb, author of the Winterbourne View Time for Change report and the Public Accounts Committee had previously called for the hospital to be closed.

Greater access

NHS England said it wanted to give people the opportunity to to live in the community closer to friends and family, to receive the treatment and care needed to ensure proactive healthcare to maintain mental and physical health and well-being and to have access to acute assessment and inpatients services when needed.

To achieve this, it said new services will be provided across the region including:

    England's only specialist learning disabilities hospital will close in 2019 as part of move towards more community care and a reduction in long-terms inpatient stays.

    A consultation on the closure of Mersey Care Whalley Hospital, formerly known as Calderstones in Lancashire, received more than 1,000 responses. 

    Both Sir Stephen Bubb, author of the Winterbourne View Time for Change report and the Public Accounts Committee had previously called for the hospital to be closed.

    Greater access

    NHS England said it wanted to give people the opportunity to to live in the community closer to friends and family, to receive the treatment and care needed to ensure proactive healthcare to maintain mental and physical health and well-being and to have access to acute assessment and inpatients services when needed.

    To achieve this, it said new services will be provided across the region including:

    • In Greater Manchester, a fully-integrated Custody Healthcare/Liaison and Diversion service. 
    • In Cheshire and Merseyside, Intensive Support Teams to provide a range of positive behaviour strategies and appropriate responses to people to avoid crises.
    • In Lancashire, a Specialist Support Team to work with people at the earliest opportunity to avoid admissions and speed up discharges from inpatient care.
    • Smaller units across the region co-located with other mental health services, and the development of a medium-secure mental health service at the Maghull site, with beds in smaller units for patients with a learning disability, autism or both.

    Regional Chief Nurse for the north Margaret Kitching said: 'Now is the time for us to work closely with staff and the people who use these services to build the kind of services we all want to see across the region over the next three years and beyond.'

    Care will increasingly move to community teams in the run up to 2019, with a number of smaller inpatient units located across the north west providing medium and low secure services for short periods of time. 

    NHS England said staff will be offered further training and development so they can be re-deployed across the new services.

    A spokesperson said: 'In cases where staff cannot or do not wish to be re-deployed, NHS England, local Clinical Commissioning Groups and Mersey Care will work with staff representatives and trades unions to explore other options.'

    Support development needed

    The RCN said it supported the motives of NHS England, but RCN north west regional director Estephanie Dunn said: 'This requires investment and money. Without the appropriate resources it will be difficult to create and ensure that appropriate living opportunities are created in local communities. This is underlined in our 2016 report, Connect for Change.

    'Robust community support and services must be developed within the Mersey Care footprint, close to service user families and the staff caring for them. It is essential that the commissioners ensure that Mersey Care have the right services, facilities and number of staff in the right place.'

    The college said it would monitor the situation and support members.


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