To whom it may concern,
I am writing to complain about the closure of The Orchard in Lancaster to female patients. This move will have significant and lasting implications for the women and should be reconsidered.
2. The change will disproportionately affect women and families on low incomes who are unable to meet the costs of travel to visit their relative.
3. Women are less likely to seek help and their relatives less likely to ask for help, knowing that they will be sent out of the area for the duration of their treatment. This may result in increased detentions under the Mental Health Act with women unwilling to accept voluntary admissions, or by their condition deteriorating until detention is inevitable. Women will be more likely to press for early discharge, which is well documented as a cause of readmission.
4. The closure will do nothing to protect vulnerable women. Treatment in an unfamiliar place with no local support will increase their vulnerability. If there are issues with male-to-female aggression in an inpatient setting then this should be addressed, rather than deny women access to services.
5. If lack of male beds is an issue then that should be addressed by the Trust by looking to increase the number of male beds without denying access to a whole group of people under their care. Women should not be denied local access to inpatient psychiatric care due to a lack of male beds. The needs of women with mental illness are not less important than the needs of men. The need for women to be close to their families, children and support networks is not less important than male beds.
Overall, this closure has no clinical benefits for women and will result in negative impacts on their health. This would appear to be a failure in your duty of care to the women of Lancaster and district, and should be reversed as soon as possible.