More than 80 people with learning disabilities remain living in long-stay hospitals over three years after their original deadline for closure, according to new Department of Health figures.
The figures show that 80 people with learning disabilities are still living in Orchard Hill long-stay hospital in the London borough of Sutton and two are living in Prudhoe Hospital in Northumberland.
In January this year 115 people were living in five long-stay hospitals, which included 93 at Orchard Hill, but since then Northgate in Northumberland, Ridge Hill in Stourbridge and the Gloucester Centre in Peterborough have all closed.
The 2001 Valuing People white paper set a target of April 2004 for the closure of all long-stay hospitals. In 2003 this was extended to March 2006 but was still missed.
Orchard Hill is now set to close by April 2009. Shaun O’Leary, head of learning disabilities at Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust, said two judicial reviews from parents and carers of the residents objecting to the hospital’s closure had held up the process and that he was “confident” that the new target would be met.
A spokesperson for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust said that one person in Prudhoe was due to be moved out into the community tomorrow (Friday) and the other was set to move out in October.
David Congdon, director of public affairs at learning disability charity Mencap, welcomed the closure of the three long-stay hospitals since January but said the process of moving people out of hospitals overall had “taken far too long”.
“They have really now got to put a push on Orchard Hill and they have got to put some impetus behind the closure of the NHS campuses,” he said.
Around 2,700 people with learning disabilities live in NHS campuses, which are operated by NHS Trusts, and the government has set a deadline of 2010 for their closure.
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