Rally to be held on Saturday in Whalley to Protest Against Calderstones Closure Plan, 12.30.
A public rally will be held in Whalley on Saturday (12 December) as fears grow for the future of vulnerable residents of Calderstones Hospital who will be moved into the community under closure plans.
Calderstones is a 223-bed NHS unit which provides high-quality care for people with learning disabilities and personality disorders. The complex also provides forensic care for people who have been through the criminal justice system where it has been deemed inappropriate to send them to prison.
Calderstones has been identified for closure following the Bubb Report, written in the aftermath of abuse at the privately-run Winterbourne View hospital. The private owners of Winterbourne View were condemned by a judge for running it “with a view to profit and with a scandalous lack of regard to the interests of its residents and staff".
Sir Stephen Bubb’s Report called for a shift in care from inpatient to community settings, and he identified a need for a “step change” in services to achieve this. The worry of staff, residents and their families is that community-based support – which would likely be provided by non-NHS providers, will not be adequate or properly funded.
UNISON, the union that represents staff at Calderstones, welcomes the trend towards care taking place in community settings wherever possible, but has serious concerns about the closure plan. Chris Chamley, UNISON Calderstones Branch Secretary said:
“Calderstones employs mental health nurses and trained health care assistants who are all committed to high quality service. The work is challenging and staff regularly are required to deal with physical violence, self-harm and suicide risks. Staff get to know service users, and know how to intervene when necessary to change behaviour.
“Currently, residents only move into the community when assessments indicate they are ready and able to do so, but amongst this group over 20% are readmitted to Calderstones because the community support proves inadequate. Some come back after going through the criminal justice system or after a period living on the streets. Calderstones currently provides a vital role, and it is very worrying what will happen to the safety of service users and the public if the closure plan goes ahead.
“The shift to more community-based services will require real investment and can’t be done on the cheap. The privately-run community care sector is characterised by low pay and high staff turnover. Service users need consistency in their carer, and a concern is that the vital relationship between service users and their carers will be weakened without better standards in community care.
“We are in danger of shifting vulnerable people from the care of well-trained NHS staff to an underfunded community care sector that is dominated by profit-seeking private companies. I fear we may have learned all the wrong lessons from Winterbourne View.”
As well as UNISON, Healthwatch has expressed concerns about the closure plan. Lancashire County Council has described the extra money available to it to care for 50 current Calderstones residents as insufficient. UNISON has calculated the £640,000 of extra funding to approximate to just three hours care a day for service users who currently have 24/7 support.
The public rally takes place at 12.30 at the Whalley Arms Car Park, 60 King Street, Whalley BB7 9SN. All welcome.