Lancashire mental health units to close in shake-up
Mental health wards at eight hospitals in Lancashire could close under plans for a major shake-up of services.
In-patients would instead be admitted to one of four new or redeveloped units in Blackburn, Blackpool, Lancaster or central Lancashire.
Health bosses said the reorganisation would focus treatment on community-based services which, they said, evidence showed was more effective.
The proposals, subject to consultation, could take five years to implement.
About £23m a year is already spent on community-based mental health services and this would be strengthened under the plans, Lancashire Care NHS Trust said.
It added that too many people were staying in hospital when the evidence suggested community treatment provided better results.
About 4,000 in Lancashire needed inpatient treatment in 2010 and in a letter to primary care trusts health bosses said the figure was reducing year-on-year.
Up to 450 mental health inpatient beds are currently provided at 10 sites across the county.
Trust chief executive Heather Tierney-Moore, said the proposals were based on extensive clinical evidence and feedback from patients.
"In-patient beds are very specialist and used by proportionately very few people, and so, like other specialist health services, it is not possible to provide them locally to everyone," she said.
"The current proposals make the inpatient capacity most accessible to the two populations with the highest need: Blackpool and Blackburn.
"These locations have good access from other parts of Lancashire, including Burnley and Preston.
"This is about serving the needs of the county-wide population as effectively as possible within the resources that we have."
Under the re-organisations, there would be a minimum of 262 beds at four sites:
- Whyndyke Farm, Blackpool (new build)
- Royal Blackburn Hospital (refurbished existing facility)
- Pathfinders Drive, Lancaster
- Central Lancashire (new build at site to be determined)
Health bosses first began consulting the public about changing mental health services in 2006.
The proposals were agreed by Lancashire's five primary care trusts in the last few weeks and will now be examined by the county's health overview and scrutiny committees.