Calderstones: Hospital for those with learning disabilities to close

Calderstones Hospital Image copyright Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
Image caption NHS England said existing patients would be transferred or integrated into the community

England's only specialist hospital for patients with learning disabilities is to close by 2019.

The decision to shut Mersey Care Whalley, once known as Calderstones, follows an NHS England consultation.

Current patients will be transferred to another site or integrated into the community, NHS England said.

A spokesman for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said they were "disappointed", adding the decision was not "cost effective".

The hospital, which offers secure and specialist services to people with developmental conditions, was rated as "good" by inspectors in 2016 after previously being criticised for the quality of care, cleanliness and hygiene.

'Too reliant'

NHS England's Northern regional director Dr Michael Gregory said the plans "represent a real step forward in terms of how we support people in the North West who have a learning disability, autism or both, and their families, in the future".

"Nobody doubts the dedication of the staff at Whalley, but for too long we have been too reliant on institutional in-patient care, often for unnecessarily long periods of time," he said.

The spokesman for Mersey Care, which took over the running of the hospital in July, said it "supports service modernisation but we do not believe [this] is a decision that is cost effective at a time when NHS finances are already under great pressure and scrutiny".

"As a provider of secure services for people with complex forensic histories, our priority is to support and care for some of the most vulnerable patients in the NHS system," he said.

"We will continue to work with them as we consult with commissioners on a new clinical model."

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