All along, we have said that the closure of the ward was for financial reasons, that it was due to impact of closing the 22 male beds in Burnley and that it was until The Harbour opened. The Trust have denied this.
They have denied this on BBC Radio, in the Lancaster Guardian, to our service users in response to our letter of complaint and in the letters to the MPs. Below are some of the things that have been said.
- "The intention isn't for this to run for weeks and weeks".
- "I would like to reassure you that the use of The Orchard as an all-male facility is very much a temporary measure."
- "This isn't for financial reasons."
- "This has nothing to do with the closure of the ward in Burnley."
This was a short term, temporary measure that wasn't for financial reasons and had nothing to do with the closure of 22 beds in Burnley.
The FOI information should have backed this up. The Trust have been consistent in their reply and surely they would not give misleading information to the media, their service users or the MPs would they?
Perhaps we're misunderstanding what we've been sent, but here is some of the information provided to us from our FOI requests.
From 9/9/14 Sustainability Minutes - Suggestion made to open male ward on Darwen as no extra staff will be required. Discussed use of the Orchard as a ‘flexible friend’ to support longer term pressures of gender demand and we could scale down females to make all male to support this transition.
Longer term pressures of gender demand. Please note: Longer term pressures. Not short term pressures. Making the ward all male for longer term pressures.
Many thanks for your input and pragmatism yesterday in the meeting around managing the correct number of male vs female bed reductions, in line with our need to close a ward in total this financial year.
Our need to close a ward in this financial year. Please note: Close in financial year, for financial reasons.
We all agreed we couldn’t manage with the loss of 22 male beds though so we agreed mitigation plans (some dates for the mitigation actions below TBC):
We couldn't manage with the loss of 22 male beds. Please note: The closure of the 22 male beds in Burnley was acknowledged as unmanageable and therefore would have a known impact on the rest of the inpatient provision provided by the Trust.
TH suggested using The Orchard as a flexible ward if the network is under pressure for male or female beds for a period of time. The current female patients could be moved to Scarisbrick Unit. AW stated that as the Orchard is a standalone unit it would have to be clear which patients could be admitted as there is only 1 seclusion room. The ward would be flexible until the opening of the Harbour.
Flexible until the opening of the Harbour. Please note: Until the opening of The Harbour. The hospital due to open in March 15 if it runs to time.
There are other details in the FOI information, mainly talking about where they were going to make up the shortfall of beds, and talk of the transitional period - which we believe to be the period before the beds being closed and The Harbour opening.
What is clear is that what we said all along was true. That the women of North Lancashire were the victims of cost cutting measures and the closure of the Male ward in Burnley and that the Closure of the ward was until The Harbour opened.
Shame on you Lancashire Care NHS Trust. Shame on you for treating your female service users like this.
Full response publicly available here.