A source close to the trust revealed today that the decision to close the female inpatient beds was based on a need for more male beds.
We know that there is a high demand for female beds, with women already being
sent out of the area, often to Private Hospitals, such as The Priory in
Manchester due to lack of capacity and a FOI request has already been sent to the Lancashire Care Trust about the number of female admissions. Even without this information there are questions that have to be asked about this statement.
Firstly, why are there not enough male beds? It is the responsibility of the Trust to ensure there is some slack in the system, but the planned cuts of 25% to the services provided by this trust in the coming year would suggest that inpatient care is not being covered properly.
Secondly, this looks strongly like discrimination based on sex. Why should women be denied local access to inpatient psychiatric care due to a lack of male beds? Are the needs of women with mental illness less important than the needs of men? Are the needs of women to be close to their families, children and support networks less important than the needs of the men?
Moreover, is the damage caused to female inpatients by removing them from the local area, less important than providing 8 beds for male patients? I would suggest it isn't.
This brings me onto the point of this post. If you reduce the number of female beds, it will reduce the number of admissions, skewing the assessment of 'need'. The closure of the female inpatient service in Lancaster will also...
a. Discourage women from accepting voluntary admission, reducing the number demanding a bed.
b. Discourage women from seeking help knowing that they will be sent long distances from home, reducing the demand for a bed.
c. Discourage families from seeking help for their female relatives, knowing they will be sent away from home.
The need for local female psychiatric inpatient care is as important as the need for male beds. Reducing access is a self-fulfilling prophecy.