Saturday, 20 December 2014

Its the BITO Christmas Night Out!

Tonight the Beds in the Orchard team are on their way out to celebrate what has been a very successful few weeks of very hard work. 

This is the part where we all can join together and have some fun, especially for those of us who've not been able to join in the coffee and cake-fest that has been the cornerstone of a lot of the campaign team's involvement.

We're looking forward to a night of good food, good company and probably fizzy stuff to celebrate Christmas and the campaign in general.

Let the good times roll!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

We're on the last straight and close to the finish!

Has it all gone quiet at Beds in the Orchard?  Not really, there's just a lot going on in the background.

The past week or so has been busy for the Beds in the Orchard team, but mainly in preparing for Christmas rather than campaigning for beds.  The Christmas trees are up, the lights are shining and the presents mostly wrapped.  Of course the main present that we want is the return of the beds to women.

So, is this going to happen?

Yes and sooner than The Harbour opening.  This is a big change from a couple of weeks ago when the Trust looked into whether they could swing the beds back and reported that it wasn't possible.  Now the information is that the CCG has said that they need to be returned to female before The Harbour opens and they are working hard for that to happen.

This is good news and there has been a lot of excitement among the team because someone from LCFT said that it would be by Christmas, but as usual there is a difference between the message via the official route and the information given to someone involved with the Campaign by other LCFT staff.

One person had a member of LCFT on speakerphone so they and their friend heard that person tell them both that the beds would definitely be open by Christmas.  The Official line from LCFT via our spokesperson is that its only a Maybe by Christmas as there are a lot of things that need doing and that the person from LCFT hadn't said it was for definite.

So who is right?
Two people heard the man from LCFT say it was for definite.  The same man has said via the official line that they didn't say it was for definite.  We think there's a bit of ass covering going on there to be honest.  One person getting the wrong end of the stick, fine, but two.  Big. Fat. HMMMMMMM. So while we agree that no one misheard what they were told over the phone, it just wasn't true and shouldn't have been said.

However this is not the important stuff! 

The important thing is that they are actually trying to reopen the beds to women by Christmas.  They can't guarantee it as it will take a lot for this to happen and sometimes these things just aren't possible.

  1. They are trying to close down the beds to men in order to reopen them to women. 
  2. They have people who are in private beds at the moment at its important to get them back into Trust Beds.
  3. They are looking into ways to reduce male admissions.
  4. They have managed a small reduction at the Orchard to free up a bed.
  5. They are doing what they can but can't guarantee it, so hopes should not be got up.

This smells of success!
BUT While it looks like we're going to be successful, we're not going to have any grand announcements until we have them back for sure and we know they won't be returned to men as soon as we turn our backs.

A lot of work has gone into this campaign. Some people have joined in close to the end and their input has been great, but this has been a long slog since October when we first heard about the closure.  Its taken hard work, time, lots of investigation, FOI requests, lots of legal advice and communication with the press.  We're bloody proud of what we've achieved, but there's no way that we're going to announce a victory before we've actually won for real.

So as we are down to the last bit of the whole campaign, we are going to hand over the keys to Philippa, the campaign spokesperson and founder along with Lisa and Roz, the managers and bloody scary women to deal with the Trust, so we can get on with enjoying Christmas and not get over excited before we actually get the beds back.

They'll keep you all updated, Officially updated and hopefully the news will be good and soon.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Lancaster Guardian Once More...

Beds in the Orchard went back into the Lancaster Guardian for the second time today.

If you're a regular follower of this blog, you may remember our first mention in the Lancaster Guardian where we were told that the closure to women was because of those long dark winter nights.

Things have moved on a lot since then, but we kept in contact with the Guardian and they decided to talk more about our campaign in today's edition.  We made it onto the front page, no less, and the full article is here - Won't take bed battle lying down.

We'd like to thank both Rebecca Wilkinson and Philippa Molloy for speaking out so clearly about what this campaign means to us and why we are fighting on. 

A lot of the article focuses on how we believe that the Trust did not adhere to the Equality Act when making the decision.  This is something that our MP David Morris is taking up for us.  The Trust believe they have adhered to the act, but the truth will be in the detail.

While you don't need to do a full Equality Impact Assessment or consultation for a temporary decision, we have been advised that you do still need to pay due regard to the Act and be able to provide the documentation showing how such due regard was taken.  Without such documentation indirect discrimination will have occurred.

As the Trust have been unable to show that such due regard has taken place, or provide the details of why they believe such due regard did not have to take place, our position remains the same.  Hopefully this is something that will be clarified one way or another through our MP.

Our spokesperson is still working with the Trust and has been in contact with them this week, although the feedback from her is that its "in progress" we expect that there will be further updates as time goes on.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Judicial Review - you win some, you lose some.

Today we had some bad news regarding our taking the Trust to court for Judicial Review.

The rules for Judicial Review state that the claim has to be brought within 3 months of the decision being made.

Recent information provided to us states that the decision was made in August and unfortunately that means we have missed the window of opportunity by a few weeks.

While we're obviously disappointed by this, we still send our thanks to Irwin Mitchell and Partners in Manchester who spoke to us about the case and gave us a lot of advice for free.

While it is incredibly frustrating that we can't take the more formal channel of action on this occasion, we are not wholly disappointed.  We still showed that the Trust was unable to supply any documentation about due regard to the Equality Act 2010 when asked.

You win some, you lose some, but we shall carry on.

Is a Victory Without Beds Possible?

It's clear to our campaign that we may not get the beds back any time soon.  They just don't have enough beds after they closed 22 male beds knowing they needed them.  They knew they couldn't manage and they'd have to close The Orchard to women to do it.

They also closed the beds at the start of autumn when they knew there was a seasonal demand for male beds.  Closing beds knowing they were needed.  Stupid thing to do.

Our spokesperson is working with their spokesperson to see what is going to happen next as well as keeping an eye on everything we're doing too.

The rest of the campaign team had a meeting this morning to talk about the situation.  The big topic for our meeting today was...

If we can't get the beds has all of this work been worth it?  
Have we had any kind of victory without getting them back when that was our aim?

We think we can claim some victories along the way.

We've publicly called the Trust to account for their actions.
That's a victory.

We publicly showed through FOI that the Trust was not giving the full story and people know it.
That's a victory.

We've managed to tell our story in local and national press and on local radio.
That's a victory.

We've made the Trust take a group of service users and what they are doing very seriously.
That's a victory.

We have gained the backing of our MP who has been on the radio to support us.
That's a victory.

We publicised the campaign across the UK and lots of people now know what the Trust did.
That's a victory.

We made Mumsnet Blog of the day so a thousand people learned about the Trust's actions.
That's a victory.

We've made people care about us and have had nearly 600 signatures on our petition.
That's a victory.

If you search for the Trust and The Orchard, our publicity there for everyone to see.
That's a victory.

We've helped other service users find their voice and challenge the Trust themselves.
That's a victory.

Most of all, we doubt that the LCFT will pull a stunt like this without expecting a huge reaction as we're organised, we're working together and we'll be on it with all of the force we have.

And that, my friends is a VICTORY!

We still want the bloody beds back though.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Small Victories

This whole campaign has been a series of small victories.  While we're waiting for the report from the Trust that we expect to get today, we're sharing two.

We've put these on twitter as well, but for those of you who don't follow @OrchardBeds, here we go.

The blog tells us what search terms have been used to find us.  A few people have searched for Orchard Hospital Lancaster. We wondered what turned up when you did.

All of our publicity in the press.  Cool!

We flicked onto images and while most of the, are building shots, we found that our logo comes before the chief exec.  

As we said. Small victories!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Communications with the Trust Part 3 or 4, we've lost count.

The Beds in the Orchard team has been having a well deserved weekend off the campaign to regroup, drink mulled wine and do a bit of Christmas shopping. We can confirm that Christmas shopping is way more tiring and stressful than campaigning for women.  However, since mulled wine has been involved, its not all bad.

So on to next week...

Our spokesperson has heard back from the Trust and we are expecting to receive a report from them tomorrow along with the notes from our meeting last Monday.

Last Thursday, Keith Dibble held a meeting of managerial and clinical staff to discuss everything that has happened so far and their report will cover their position about the closure and actions since.

So we're a bit "wait and see" now.  We'll let you know what happens tomorrow.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Our Campaign, our MP and the LCFT on the BBC Radio Lancashire

If you don't live in Lancashire or if you haven't been listening to BBC Radio Lancashire, you can hear our campaign, the response from the Trust and our MP via their listen again Service.

You can hear us in the morning on the Graham Liver breakfast show.
We are on at 1:09:15 and the Trust are on an hour later.

You can hear about us again and the support from our MP, David Morris on the Gary Hickson program from this evening.
We are on at 01:10:00 or thereabouts.

See what you think.

Remember, when the MP mentions the Scarisbrick Unit in Ormskirk, this gem from our FOI requests.

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.

Yes, they planned to move the female patients that were at The Orchard in Lancaster to the Scarisbrick Unit in Ormskirk, the unit furthest away from home. 

So what did we learn on the radio today?

This morning Beds in the Orchard was back on BBC Radio Lancashire.  The Trust is vulnerable to Judicial Review after failing to pay due regard when closing The Orchard to women.

We sent our spokesperson.  They sent a spokesperson.  What did we learn?

1. That they are still using the "clinical need" line when we know that this is nothing to do with women who may need PICU care.

2. That they are still saying it's not for financial reasons despite knowing that they had to close a ward in this financial year and the Lancashire Telegraph had already reported that it was to save £720,000.

3. That they are still saying that it had nothing to do with closing the ward in Burnley, despite FOI information showing that they themselves said that the loss of 22 male beds was "unmanageable" before they closed it.  The FOI further showed how they had to close female beds elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

4. That they are still talking about more community care when our FOI request showed there had been no increase in staff in North Lancs or Burnley.

5. That it's preferable to deny ALL women from North Lancashire local care then send any men out of area.

6. That they weren't willing to address the issue of the Equality Act when challenged.

And last of all, they would rather have the terrible publicity of making a group of women with mental health issues take them to court rather than sort it out.

Well done Lancashire Care NHS Trust.  Well done.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Facilities for the Disabled. Is it really that hard?

This was left as a comment by Chris Balchin, but we have decided to make it a full post again.

May I just take this opportunity to say the following:

I would just like to say that I've long been aware of the phrase

'It's the Squeaky door that gets the oil'.

For those of you who have had to endure the lack of adequate facilities in The Lancaster Unit, The Orchard and the appalling disregard to your needs Trust wide, [the same experiences and worse that I too have experienced] I offer my apologies for squeaking too quietly, and possibly too timidly for too long.

I let you down.

But I care about you. I respect you, your dignity and relative independence.
However, I promise you and all future users of The Orchard and wider Trust that as long as I am able, I will not let go until you have facilities that at least match those of the new build, The Harbour, and see to it that attitudes are changed towards your needs and disadvantages. The Trust owes you that.
You are no less important in Burnley, Ormskirk, Lancaster or any part of Lancashire, than any patient being sent to the modern facility in Blackpool; when it opens of course.
This blog is a literal God send, facilitating serious amplification to my squeak and for that and their indefatigable determination to roar for those who can't or feel unable to even squeak for themselves, I give my heart felt thanks to the team.

Seriously -

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU

To Ms Tierney Moore, Chief Executive of Lancashire Care I would ask this,

Why are individual voices ignored, regardless of the gravity of the message?
My message has been voiced since my time as an inpatient at the worst period of my mental ill health, but I was made to feel from the outset like a complete nuisance and an irritation.
And how can it be that the most senior member of the build project team for the £100,000 plus refurbished Lancaster Unit say he was "unaware" of the absence of any facilities for disabled people, and that " must have been an oversight".
Only to follow that up with an identical situation at the £1.2 million refurbished Orchard, even though I attended the Open Information Day prior to work on the Orchard refurbishment, specifically to advise of the situation in order to "...prevent the same issue reoccurring at The Orchard".

I deserve a transparent and honest answer to these points, as do the other service users and the financiers.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

We're fighting for the Women but what about Disability?

This post was left as a comment on our Blog, but I am moving and making it a full post as it's important.  I would like to thank Chris Balchin for adding this and also for being strong enough to use their own name, something that not many can or will do.

From the outset I can openly state my name.  I am Chris (Christopher) Balchin. My LCFT credentials you will find in my comment earlier in this blog.

I am so grateful for this latest posting!

It is of great benefit to me personally in my one man campaign for Justice for disabled people in The former Lancaster Unit, at its replacement The Orchard, and around attitudes to disabled people's experience within the Trust generally.  My campaign has received warm words but little success since 2010 when I was an inpatient suffering the effects of a serious breakdown.

I today met with genuinely concerned senior managers in the Trust. These managers were made aware of my concerns for the first time today and were genuinely shocked at my stories. I believe they are taking this and other issues very seriously indeed.

It had not occurred to me that the Trust needed to take Due Regard for Disability when earlier mentioned, but your wording opened my eyes to the obvious. 

All I've heard from project managers and the Architect was that Regulations are different for a refurbishment to that of a new build.  Other management just referred to cost implications.  I continually questioned the legitimacy of those comments where no facilities are provided at all, or where facilities are so lacking that there might as well be none.

The room lauded to me as 'The Disabled Room' is named such for one reason and one reason only - it has a larger floor area. Further, this Disabled Room is on the Men's Wing.  I received no reply when I asked where the Women's Disabled Room was.

If those people that I have previously spoken to thought I would go away, be assured I never would, but the stress of their inaction and dismissive behaviour might have caused a relapse in my health forcing me back to the inadequate conditions of the Orchard. I would not have coped with that though so would not have likely survived.

However, though my only technology is a phone, I see it can be so beneficial in bringing justice to the oppressed.  It is amazing what Public Knowledge of a situation can do.

Well Chris, we do hope that the Trust staff who we know are reading our blog, look into your concerns properly and start taking issues of potential discrimination seriously.

Judicial Review - Letter Before Claim to be sent to the LCFT

After taking advice yesterday, Beds in the Orchard contacted their solicitor and asked for a Letter Before Claim to be sent to the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust with regards to taking them to court for a Judicial Review into their action of closing The Orchard to women.

When taking action, even temporary, that has a direct affect on a Protected Characteristic as outlined in the Equality Act of 2010, in this case a person's sex, a public body must pay due regard to the act and must publish documentation about how due regard was given when asked. The Trust as unable to provide such information and are therefore liable to Judicial Review.

Below are some of the questions that have been asked amongst campaigners and our responses.

What does this mean?
The Letter Before Claim will lay out the case for how the Trust has made a decision in a way that contravenes the Equality Act.  It will give them the opportunity to negotiate a resolution with our campaign before it goes to court.

Sounds expensive.
Judicial Review claims are eligible for Legal Aid.  For someone to be eligible for Legal Aid they need to be in receipt of certain benefits - in our case ESA, have savings of less than 8K and less than 100k of equity in any property they own.  Because of the nature of the people we are supporting, there are a number of our group who qualify for Legal Aid.

Do you really want to go to court?
This campaign has always been about returning inpatient care to the women of North Lancashire and that is all we want.  We would naturally prefer to do this out of court so that the public money that funds the NHS was spent on patient care rather than court cases.  

What next?
We would appeal to the LCFT to find a way to return The Orchard to a mixed sex facility as soon as possible and to not close the facility to women again.  We are still at a stage where we can resolve this together and as our case is quite clear cut it would benefit no one for this to be taken fully down the legal route.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

So, will we get the beds back?

The question we've been asked the most is "are we getting the beds back?"

The answer to this is "yes, at some point, but it may not be until The Harbour opens."

This is obviously very disappointing to us all.  This will mean that The Orchard will have been closed to women for at least 6 months.  Half a year is not a short term temporary closure, it is a long period of time for women to be denied local care and experience all of the negative effects.

The Trust were unable to offer any guarantees about when the ward will be reopened to women, although they assured us that they are reviewing this regularly.

The problem is that they're unable to cope with the demand for male beds, so have no choice to keep the ward male only.  Attempts to move some beds back have not worked.  This is due to the lack of capacity caused by closing the 22 male beds.

Is it just the women in North Lancashire who have lost out?

Yes. Although there have been small losses elsewhere, the impact has focussed on North Lancashire. 

The first contingency plans were to close 5 female beds and change those to male.  Two of these were the swing beds at The Orchard. The closure of the whole ward means that the loss of 22 male beds has resulted in a total loss of 11 female beds, 8 of which are in Lancaster.

Is there ANY good news?

Yes and no...
We've been assured that The Orchard will return to mixed use as soon as it's feasible, though with the usual caveat that it could run to when The Harbour opens.  It's difficult for us to see this as good news when we already had that information.

More positively, it was made clear that the intention is to absolutely return the ward to mixed sex and that there are further plans for investment, such as the appointment of an additional Pdoc.

The Consultant Psychiatrist who attended the meeting to give clinical input was keen to point out that they wanted the ward to return to mixed sex as it was a more therapeutic environment when the ward is mixed.  He also showed genuine concern about the in the impact of the closure.

The Trust are keen to keep dialogue open between themselves and the Campaign and our spokesperson will keep this dialogue going.  The Trust have assured us that the use of the beds is under constant review and that they are accountable to the CCGs that it is only temporary.  By having direct communication we can keep up to date with what is happening.

Anything else?
We suggested an interim measure to help the women and their families and this is going to be discussed by the Trust, though they felt it may not be feasible.  We have actioned them to look into other ways that they could help.

We also raised some feedback as to how the trust could look at how it deals with complaints.  They have taken this on-board.

Strategy is no Excuse for In-Year Budget Cuts

Much has been made about the Strategy of the LCFT to reduce the number of inpatient beds while increasing the input from the community teams.

In our meeting yesterday, we strongly challenged the closure of the 22 beds in Burnley as it was clear that decision had gone ahead with full acknowledgement that the loss of those beds was unmanageable, thus resulting in The Orchard being closed to women.

Mr. Dibble referred back to their strategy to reduce the number of inpatient beds and their major planning process of 2006 that had involved wide consultation and full due process.  This was quoted that as a reason behind the closure of Ward 18 as it was part of the strategic plan.

We disagreed that you could refer back to an 8 year old plan to explain the closure of a ward to women in 2014.  Mr. Dibble disagreed with us, as in his experience plans involving PFI, for example can take many years. 

Our issue with this is that Strategy lays out the long term goals of an organisation, however, Strategy should not result in a failure to deliver required services. 

We are not talking about the long term strategic plan, we are talking about a short term measure to deliver savings to the in-year budget knowing that it was not sustainable operationally and therefore resulted in the Trust being unable to deliver its services as required.

Blaming strategic plans for operational failures does not make business sense.

To summarise:-

  • The Trust will have had to make cost savings within year.  This is part of the yearly budget plan, not the Strategic Capital Investment plan.
  • The 22 beds were closed as part of the yearly budget plan, not the Strategic Capital Investment plan.
  • It is not the overall LCFT patient care strategy that caused the closure of The Orchard to women, it was the financial pressures and required budget savings within this financial year
  • A decision was made to reduce services knowing there wasn't capacity to manage that change.  This is not a strategic issue.  That is financial and operational. 
It is still clear that the women of North Lancashire are paying the price for the decision to reduce bed capacity to deliver short-term savings knowing that it was not manageable.

This is not acceptable.

Business Planning 101 - Know your Strategy

Our representatives spent last night writing a number of updates for our blog today about what happened at their meeting with the Trust.  After reading through some of them we’ve asked for some translation about what was said.  So for those of you who like us have no idea what the difference is between Strategic, Operational and Financial Planning, we’re going to start off with an overview, so our first update makes sense.  For those of you, who know all this already; do skip this “KISS” overview.

I’ve been asked to write about business planning in layman’s terms.  I’m not sure I can so apologies in advance.

Business Planning
All businesses and organisations need a strategic plan to be able to grow and transform. 
  • Strategic plans are usually long term. E.g 5 years.  They state what the overall goal of the organisation is, what they want to achieve and predict where the business will go.  Strategic plans should be reviewed on a yearly basis to ensure they are still relevant.
  • Operational plans set out how they will achieve the strategic goals and run the business while working towards the goals.  Operational Plans should be created yearly and aligned to the Strategic plan.
  • Investment plans set out how much money is needed to deliver the strategic plan and the operational plans.  These are usually 3 year plans, but should be reviewed regularly.
  • Yearly budget plans set and manage the budget within year and should be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Capital Business Planning
Capital Business Planning is about investment in the business.  Large projects are funded from capital should deliver a clear goal.  Large investment in equipment is also capitalised.

Yearly budget Planning
There are three budgets; Payroll, Income and Expenditure (I&E) and Capital.  Payroll is a type of I&E and is generally the largest yearly spend in an organisation.  I&E is what you need to run the Business and Capital is used for large expenditure.  A basic example of this would be that Nurses are funded from Payroll, Bandages are funded from I&E and a new MRI scanner would use Capital.
All three budgets can fluctuate depending on yearly pressures.

Have you got all that? We think we almost have.  There is a reason for explaining this – more to follow in our next blog post.

Monday, 1 December 2014

With all due regards.

Today I met with representatives from the Trust, including Keith Dibble, Deputy Network Director.  This is a brief overview.

We focused mainly on the legality of the closure and how the closure of male beds for financial reasons had caused an unmanageable demand that resulted in the loss of 11 female beds across the county, 8 of which were at The Orchard in Lancaster.

We believe that the women of North Lancashire are the victims of cost cutting measures that artificially caused a shortage of male inpatient beds and we will not be moved from that position.

Both sides have taken legal advice.  The Trust has been advised that it has acted legally.  The campaign has been advised that this is indirect sexual discrimination and is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

We have not seen any documentation regarding the due regard to the Equality Act that the Trust should have undertaken with regards to the closure.  We asked that it be supplied to us by the end of today as if it exists, it should be readily available.

We have not received any such documentation.

We have advised that the campaign will continue.  A full report of the meeting will be posted to the blog tomorrow.

Meeting with the Trust

Our campaign representatives will be meeting with the Trust this afternoon to discuss the closure of the beds to women.

We are sending two representatives.  They are good people who have given the campaign a lot of help and support over the past weeks and are giving up their own time and using their annual leave to meet with the Trust on our behalf this afternoon.

We wanted to pop something onto the Blog to let them know we think they're just marvellous!

Check back later for details of how it went.