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Wrangle over site for dementia care in Lancashire
HEALTH chiefs admit there is still a major hurdle to clear before dementia care in Lancashire can be transformed.
On Wednesday, NHS Lancashire agreed to centralise specialist dementia care on a single site, meaning up to 60 beds currently scattered across the county will close.
But the most controversial part of the plans is still unresolved after bosses delayed the decision on where the new site will be located.
Blackpool was put forward as the first option, but major concerns were raised about the distances that East Lancashire patients would have to travel.
The county’s clinical commissioning groups, which are set to take over health budgets next month, will now consider whether a more central location can be found although this could create many problems.
Janice Horrocks, a consultant for NHS Lancashire, said the search for another site could delay the project for years. Building work is already set to start on a 154-bed mental health facility in Blackpool, with 30 of the beds pencilled in for patients with severe dementia. It is set to open in 2015.
Mrs Horrocks said finding another site in the centre of the county could be problematic as land is expensive, and the project would depend on planning permission.
But she said it ‘would have been wrong’ to ignore the objections raised in the consultation.
Wednesday’s board meeting also heard there would be a ‘significant impact’ on the finances of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust if the beds were not allocated to Blackpool, though bosses were said to be aware of this risk.
Alex Walker, who headed up the project for NHS Lancashire, said the decision to go for a single site will deliver much needed funds (£4 million) for community services, enabling more patients to be cared for at home.
Medical director Dr Jim Gardner said the changes would put Lancashire “right at the forefront’ of dementia care”.
Russ McClean, of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, said the decision to reconsider the site was good news for patients and relatives.
He said: “It’s something we’ve been fighting hard for once the consultation began. Everyone across East Lancashire has raised concerns about the unit being in Blackpool.”
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