Hospital to close in disability care shake up

Chris McCarrick
Chris McCarrick

A HOSPITAL which had mistreated and abused a Wigan man with severe disabilities is to close.

NHS England has announced the closure of Calderstones Hospital, in Whalley, which specialises in care for adults with severe learning disabilities who are often referred after contact with the criminal justice system.

The site came under severe criticism last December from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as inspectors found “serious deficiencies” in its care, reporting poor cleanliness and hygiene on the wards, low levels of staffing and too many instances when patients were restrained in the face-down position.

The closure announcement, which is subject to consultation, was made as part of a wider review following Winterbourne View scandal that will see hundreds of people in England with learning disabilities cared for in the community rather than in hospital units.

Orrell mum Lynne McCarrick said she is glad the hospital is closing, as staff had mistreated her 22-year-old son, Chris, who has severe autism and learning disabilities.

He had been spat at, had sanitiser thrown in his face, forced on the floor and restrained and he was even left to eat live frogs.

She added that the hospital had prevented his family from visiting him for the last 16 months.

Following her claims, an eight-month safeguarding investigation by Rochdale Council in 2013, concluded that staff at the hospital had abused him – but she started a campaign to release him and gain specialist care in the community, as he still remains at the hospital.

She said: “We reported our concerns about Calderstones back in August 2012 but no-one listened to us. It took six months before a whistle-blower came forward.

“I felt he was just a warehouse number, trapped behind closed doors with no voice.

“The system has failed him and I am glad the truth is coming out at last. We have all been going through hell.”

Mersey Care NHS Trust intends to take over the Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which will cease to exist from next July.

Chief Executive of Calderstones, Mark Hindle, said: “We are supportive of the principle of the least restrictive practice and the discharge of service users into appropriate community locations as quickly as possible, in accordance with direction from NHS England.

“We continue to work closely with family members, our commissioners and others including the Ministry of Justice to ensure the proper care pathway for those we support from secure services into community settings.

“The national policy of Transforming Care is a unique opportunity to develop better services for people with learning disabilities.

“We have been working for a considerable time with Mersey Care to ensure that the services that need to continue to be delivered are part of an organisation that focuses on excellence for service users staff and carers.”

Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust supports 185 service users, with 136 in settings of low or medium security.

It is commissioned to provide medium secure, low secure and specialist NHS services to adults with developmental disorders who in many cases present with extremes of serious offending behaviour.