Missed closure deadlines leave 150 waiting for moves from hospitals

Nearly 150 people with learning difficulties remain in five long-stay hospitals which have twice missed government closure deadlines of March 2004 and March 2006, Community Care has learned.

As well as the 93 people at Orchard Hill hospital in Surrey, there are 28 in Prudhoe and Northgate hospitals in Northumberland, 20 at Ridge Hill hospital in Stourbridge and five at Peterborough’s Gloucester Centre.

Dudley Beacon & Castle and Dudley South primary care trusts, which run Ridge Hill, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, which runs the Gloucester Centre, blamed the delays on difficulties finding suitable properties.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, which runs Prudhoe and Northgate hospitals, said resettlement had been delayed while it put in place plans for individuals.

Meanwhile, professionals are calling on the government to create a national service framework for people with learning difficulties and have launched a consultation of the sector. Jim Blair, a senior university lecturer in learning difficulties in London, and Mike Kennard, chief executive of charity Signalong, have drawn up proposals following the investigation into abuse of people with learning difficulties in Cornwall.

In a questionnaire to organisations and service users this week, Blair and Kennard said the time was right for a learning difficulties framework, following the Cornwall findings and lack of national targets in the sector.

However, a Department of Health spokesperson said she was unaware of the proposal and it was “unlikely to be considered” while work continued to implement the government’s Valuing People white paper, published in 2001.

Long-stay hospitals still to close  
 Orchard Hill

 93 people

 Prudhoe and Northgate

 28 people

 Ridge Hill

 20 people

 Gloucester Centre

 5 people

Further information
www.choiceforum.org/nsfpld.doc for more on the consultation.

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