Legal fight delays hospital’s closure

The Orchard Hill hospital for people with learning difficulties
in Sutton, Surrey, will not meet the Valuing People deadline to
close long-stay hospitals by March 2006 following delays caused by
a legal battle.

This week the hospital said it was reviewing its closure
timetable following the end of a lengthy dispute about future plans
for residents.

Parents of two people living at Orchard Hill launched a judicial
review of Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust’s decision in May
2004 to move residents into community-based services.

The case was taken over by the Official Solicitor, who acted on
behalf of all the people living at the hospital, and an agreement
was reached in July that most residents would move into the

The 38 remaining residents, with problems including challenging
behaviour, mental health and physical health needs, are currently
being assessed by a panel of independent experts to decide whether
they should stay in a small health care unit on the Orchard Hill


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