The closure of female inpatient care at The Orchard has a disproportionate effect on women and families on low incomes. It restricts the ability of families and friends to visit and leaves them with stark choices. Do they visit their loved one, sacrificing other things that they need, or do they stay away?
Visiting people has significant costs in terms of time and money. Lets take Blackpool as an example. To get to visit someone by local transport, you will need the return train ticket from Lancaster to Blackpool North stations, then bus fares to and from Lancaster Station and between Blackpool North and Parkwood Hospital.
Single Adult Visiting
Train, Adult Day Return £14.50. Journey time 1h11m each way, (variable time to change trains).
Bus, Lancashire Day Rider (cheapest option) £7.20. Journey times between 30 mins - 1 hour each way.
Total Cost £21.40 return
Journey Time - Between 3h22m and 4h22.mins return.
Adult visiting with two children.
Train: One adult and two children £29.00
Bus, Family Day Rider (cheapest option) £16.50 Journey times between 30 mins - 1 hour each way.
Total Cost £45.50
If you factor in the length of your visit, then a trip to see a loved one will take up to 6 hours in journey and visiting time.That is a day off work, or a very long trip for small children in particular. For many families, £45.50 is money that they would struggle to find and certainly would result in less visits, or in some cases any visits at all. This has a negative impact for all involved.
While people who have access to a car, may be able to reach the hospitals more easily, there is still a cost in petrol and parking and still a cost of time taken.
Women who are in low income families are disproportionally affected by the removal of local beds, both financially and emotionally as they are less able to see their families, friends and access other local support.