Cash to help close hospitals welcomed

The government announced an extra £41m funding for learning
difficulties services last week as a Community Care
investigation revealed that many local authorities are still
failing to meet key Valuing People targets.

Learning difficulties groups welcomed the government’s cash
injection last week, which will boost the provision of residential
services as long-stay hospitals close.

Three-quarters of the 20 long-stay hospitals for people with
learning difficulties that missed the original April 2004 deadline
for closure are still open almost a year on.

Five of these – the Orchard Hill hospital in Sutton, the
Gloucester centre in Peterborough, Prudhoe and Northgate hospitals
in Northumberland and the Princess Marina hospital in
Northamptonshire – are also situated within areas showing
poor performance on direct payments.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection identified Northumberland
and Northamptonshire Councils as requiring “urgent
investigation” into their provision of direct payments in the
social services performance assessment framework indicators for
2003-4. Sutton and Peterborough Councils were said to need to be
questioned about their performance.

The Valuing People support team is expected to report on the
progress towards the closure of long-stay hospitals and the
provision of direct payments to community care minister Stephen
Ladyman in its annual report next month.

The majority of institutions still open told Community
they were “in the process” of moving
residents out and were “confident” of meeting the new
April 2006 deadline for closure.

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