Plans for secure hospital under fire

    A company’s plans to open a hospital for children with learning
    difficulties in Northamptonshire have been attacked this week by
    campaigners.

    Care Principles, which works with about 50 primary care trusts and
    runs five hospitals in England, plans to build a secure hospital at
    the former Brigstock army camp.

    It would house 54 children with learning difficulties aged between
    13 and 19 who have been detained for assessment and treatment under
    the Mental Health Act 1983.

    But, in a letter to health secretary Stephen Ladyman, the
    Association for Real Change, a membership group which supports
    service providers, said it was difficult to envisage how such a
    service would “be in accordance with the principles enshrined in
    Every Child Matters“.

    The association questioned whether such a large facility was the
    best way to care for this group, adding that there was little point
    celebrating getting the last 1,200 people with learning
    difficulties out of long-stay hospitals by 2006, only to permit the
    creation of such institutions in the private sector.

    Joan Scott, director of self-advocacy group Action Unlimited,
    warned that it was unlikely children would ever get out of these
    kinds of institutions once they entered them.

    But Care Principles’ project manager Richard Broughton insisted the
    provision of “comprehensive campus-based specialist in-patient
    services” was necessary for some people. He said the hospitals were
    “care, not custodial environments” and that the treatment provided
    would enable children to return to community facilities as soon as
    possible.

    Broughton also insisted the five-metre anti-climb fence surrounding
    the hospital was necessary for security purposes and would make the
    patients feel “safe and protected”.

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