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Burnley’s mental health ward closure plans horrify town’s MP
A SCHEME to transfer Burnley’s mental health wards to a specialist new centre in Blackburn has ‘horrified’ the town’s MP.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has announced that by 2016 it will have shut 14 mental health facilities it runs throughout the county, concentrating on four specialist centres at Blackburn, Blackpool, Lancaster and in central Lancashire, at a cost of £140million.
From 2015, patients using Burnley’s wards 18 and 20, which have 43 beds in total, will either be treated at home, or will be moved to the Royal Blackburn Hospital’s Pendle View and Hill View units.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said that the change will be distressing to Burnley patients, isolating them from friends and family, and was ‘an admission that the trust has been using second rate facilities for years’.
A trust spokesman said: “Existing wards are no longer suitable for delivering modern mental health care.
“Many are situated on acute hospital sites that weren’t designed for this purpose. The trust’s vision is to provide facilities that are modern, therapeutic and supportive of recovery.”
The trust said that ‘in the majority of cases’, most people can be cared for effectively in the community where they live, but those hospitalised in new centres will benefit from access to outdoor space, and their own bedroom and bathroom.
Mr Birtwistle said: “Mental health services should be carried out as close to where the person lives as possible.
“It’s not right that they should be uprooted and shipped off 20 miles down the road to somewhere unfamiliar and unsettling, and at a time when it’s important to have support from friends and family.
“If they say that the wards are not fit for purpose at the moment, then make them fit for purpose, don’t close them.
“I’m horrified that they have been operating when they are not suitable for the patients.”
A spokesman for Mind, a mental health charity, said: “In some cases, caring for patients at home is the best option, because hospitals can be an isolating experience.
“However, sometimes hospitals are the better option because a patient might have problems at home, or might find it difficult to switch off, if there are children running around for example.”
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