AN inquiry has taken place after nine patients at an East Lancashire mental health hospital are suspected of having nearly £10,500 stolen from their bank accounts.

Police are understood to have been called in after the amount was discovered to have been taken from services users at the former Calderstones Hospital in Whalley.

No-one has been prosecuted over the loss, which was first discovered a number of months ago, and was suspected to have involved a member of staff at first.

But NHS bosses at the specialist learning disabilities organisation say all of the money has now been returned to the patients concerned and an internal review has begun into what happened.

The Lancashire Telegraph understand that the lost cash was uncovered when Des Johnson, a new chief operating officer for the secure division at Mersey Care NHS Trust, which looks after Calderstones now, was appointed.

In a report to the trust’s last audit committee, details were first revealed of the missing money, which totalled £10,478 and is said to have involved the finances of nine separate patients.

An investigation was undertaken by the secure division and the matter was reported to police, who are understood to have informed the trust there was not enough evidence to proceed with a criminal prosecution.

Mr Johnson is said to have ordered a full review of how patient money is handled at the Whalley site.

This is expected to cover the legal obligations placed on the trust, over financial arrangements, and how trust officials interact with the banks and service users regarding their own accounts.

Another report was expected to be presented to the audit committee, which will in turn be considered when Mersey Care’s full board meets in Prescot on November 27.

A Mersey Care spokesman said: “We have detailed action plans in place and no service user has lost any money. Some months ago a number of issues arose which were reported to our auditors.

“The trust was advised that no external action could be taken as there was insufficient evidence against any individual.

“It has acted swiftly to investigate and worked with external partners to ensure new processes are followed. The division has funded the money that was lost and returned it to the service users.”

The trust is currently in the middle of winding down operations at Whalley.