A severely disabled woman has failed in her legal challenge to
remain in the long-stay hospital that has been her home for almost
Diane Payne, 54, uses a wheelchair, is blind, suffers from
epilepsy and has the mental age of an infant. She was first taken
into care at the age of three and has been a patient at St Ebba’s
long-stay hospital for adults with learning difficulties, in Epsom,
Surrey, since 1963.
St Ebba’s, which has 143 severely disabled residents, has been
slowly wound down in recent years. It is to be replaced by a
“village community” with 60 places on an adjacent site.
Payne’s sister, Linda Killick, sought a judicial review in the
high court last week to challenge Surrey Oakland NHS Trust’s plans
to relocate her to a home near Bearstead, Kent. Killick wanted her
sister to be able to stay at St Ebba’s until a place could be found
for her in the new community.
However, Mr Justice Collins dismissed the case, saying that a
judicial review challenge was not the appropriate way to secure
Payne’s future care. He added that her lawyers could apply to the
high court family division for a declaration as to her “best
The problem was that the village community had yet to open and
probably would not do so for at least a year, if not longer, he
said. Payne had visited her proposed new home in Kent and had shown
no apparent “adverse reaction”, he added. The closure of the
hospital was inevitable and there was “no benefit” in Killick
pursuing her sister’s case further.