Hospital closures plan in doubt

Only one out of 21 long-stay hospitals has stopped providing
accommodation for people with learning difficulties in the past 12
months despite a government target to end the practice by next

The white paper Valuing People, which outlined a new
strategy for learning difficulties and was published in March 2001,
contains a target to close all long-stay hospitals by April 2004
but it remains uncertain whether the deadline is achievable.

Questions in the House of Lords last month revealed that about 750
people with learning difficulties still live in 20 long-stay
hospitals compared to 1,100 living in 21 hospitals in November
2002. Only the Bridge Hospital in Colchester, Essex, has stopped
providing accommodation.

The Learning Disability Task Force, which oversees implementation
of the white paper, is set to report on hospital closures programme
next month.

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