The term "clinically appropriate" would suggest that the closure of The Orchard to women would have clinical benefits somewhere, but for whom?
As the spokesperson for the campaign, I posed this question to the Trust in an FOI request. Below are the questions and the response.
1.Details or documentation outlining the assessment of the clinical benefit to women from the closure of female inpatient services at The Orchard in Lancaster.
There is no documentation of the nature requested as clearly the preference is to treat all patients as near to home as possible provided that the locally available bed is clinically appropriate. However this objective has to be balanced against the broader requirement to meet the needs of Lancaster residents across the country within the bed resources available.
2. Details or documentation outlining the assessment of the negative consequences of closing female inpatient services at The Orchard in Lancaster and the plan put in place by the trust to minimise any such consequences. –
Please see question 1.
I have three concerns with the response.
Firstly; if the preference is to treat Service Users locally, then the Trust has willingly and knowingly denied female service users the preferred location for treatment.
Secondly; A preferred location for treatment, suggests that there are clinical benefits from being treated locally. Knowing this to be the case, the Trust had made no mitigations whatsoever to minimise the negative consequences of being treated away from home that the women will experience.
Lastly; In response to the following point :- this objective has to be balanced against the broader requirement to meet the needs of Lancaster residents across the country within the bed resources available.
As the closure does not benefit the needs of female service users in North Lancashire, it would appear that there has been a conscious decision to place the needs of male service users above those of female service users.
These are all issues that have been raised by the contributors to this blog. A decision has been made that directly affects the women of North Lancashire with no consideration to the negative effects and no actions taken to mitigate such effects.
We do not believe this to be acceptable.