1. ITV Report

Calderstones Hospital: UK's only learning disability hospital to close after care review

Calderstones Hospital is to shut down under NHS plans Credit:

Calderstones Hospital - the only NHS hospital in Britain - that specialises in learning disabilities is to be closed down.

ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies reports:

It follows a review sparked by the Winterbourne View care home abuse scandal.

The £45 million scheme is aimed at helping transfer those needing care out of inpatient units and into the community.

Here we explain why this is happening and what it means for patients.

  • What does the announcement mean?

Subject to a public consultation, Calderstones - which is based in the Lancashire village of Whalley in the Ribble Valley - will get rid of all 223 beds and the Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will cease to exist from next July.

The unit faced severe criticism in December from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which found poor cleanliness and hygiene on wards, low levels of staffing and too many examples of patients being restrained face down.

The number of people as of the end of September 2015 with learning difficulties in inpatient units
The number of beds that will go with the closure of Calderstones Hospital

Other specialist units will also be closing under the plans.

NHS England said that as of the end of September, there were 2,595 people with learning difficulties and/or autism in inpatient units - but this figure could be halved under the new scheme.

  • Where will patients be treated now?

The closures come as part of a £45m, three-year plan aiming to give care to hundreds of patients across England with learning difficulties in the community, rather than in hospital units.

This money will be ploughed into housing schemes to allow people the chance to own their own home, but with support staff on-site.

People and their families will also be given personal health budgets.

Mersey Care NHS Trust will take over the running of Calderstones.

All remaining inpatients there will be transferred to other facilities or back to their own homes, with an increased level of care, health chiefs say.

  • Why is this happening?
Winterbourne View residential hospital. Credit: PA Wire

NHS England said beds in inpatient units, which cost more than £175,000 a year on average, were often used "inappropriately" as a long-term care option due to a lack of community services.

The review of care services was launched following a BBC Panorama investigation, which revealed the neglect and abuse of patients by staff at Winterbourne View care home in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, in 2011.

  • How have campaigners reacted?

Campaigners and health experts have largely welcomed the plan.

They argue that keeping people with learning difficulties detained in hospital-style units is not the best environment for them.

Sir Stephen Bubb, who authored the report into Winterbourne View, was among them.

Physical restraint, over-medication and seclusion are shocking ways to treat our fellow citizens and I'm determined we must do better.

That is why I welcome today's closure programme.

That's why I welcome the plan to scale up community provision.

– Sir Stephen Bubb

However, some have voiced concern over funding - arguing that adult social care is already under strain from government budget cuts, without being forced to shoulder more burden with little to no extra financial support.

A joint statement from Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said there were still questions needing to be answered.

New money has been announced today but there is no indication as to whether this is sufficient to rapidly mobilise the new housing and care services needed, whilst also up-skilling local area teams.