Thank you for your email.
As the Member of Parliament I am not directly responsible for the day to day running’s of individual health services, however I had asked the Lancashire Care Trust for a briefing on what was happening on the unit and why the decision to close the female beds have been made.
I have enclosed a copy of the letter below for your information, but I am pleased to say that this move is only a temporary arrangement to deal with a period where there are more male referrals than female ones and the female beds will be reinstated once the male referrals return to a normal level. The letter also states that at certain periods of the year female referrals rise over male figures and on these incidences the unit will be made fully female to deal with the demand for beds.
I trust the briefing attached addresses all of the questions you have about this change, however if you would like me to ask the Trust any more questions on your behalf, please contact me again and I will be more than happy to do so.
David Morris MP
Morecambe and Lunesdale
House of Commons
As you are aware, Lancashire Care provide 18 beds for adults aged 18 and over with a mental health problem in The Orchard in Lancaster. Usually this caters for male and female service users but temporarily we are using The Orchard as a male only unit.
The reason for this is that there has been an increase in the number of male referrals and a decrease in the number of female referrals; there are currently empty female beds in Lancashire. This is a seasonal fluctuation and historically there is often an increase in male admissions at this time of year. Similarly, demand for female beds can often rise in the spring time. In order to respond to these fluctuations, the Trust’s inpatient services have been designed so that the ratio of male and female beds can be flexed to respond to meet demand accordingly.
A campaign group has been started called “Beds In The Orchard” which describes itself as “a campaign for the reinstatement of female psychiatric inpatient provision at The Orchard hospital in Lancaster”. The group are tweeting from the handle @OrchardBeds and, amongst other things, are encouraging people to contact their MP. The group have also contacted the local media and will feature on Radio Lancashire at 7am on 4 November; the Trust will also be fielding a representative for this.
I wanted to brief you that this arrangement will be for a short period of time and bed demand is under constant monitoring. This temporary measure has been in place for a month and during this time, approximately 6 females from the North Lancashire area have been admitted to a Trust facility in the wider Lancashire locality. Bed usage changes on a daily basis and as soon as the peak in male admissions has settled back to normal rates, The Orchard will revert back to being a mixed sex facility. In the same way that the service has temporarily been switched to accommodate the increase in male admissions at this time, The Orchard and the Trust’s other inpatient facilities have the flexibility to respond to an increase in female activity too. The Trust’s new facilities have been designed with this in mind and feature ‘swing beds’ so that the ratio of male/female beds can be altered in line with demand which is a dynamic situation.
It is important to note that the Trust provides beds on a pan Lancashire basis. Whilst every effort is made to place people as close to their home as possible, the most local unit may not always be the most appropriate for a person and placement is also determined by clinical need as well as location. The Trust is committed to keeping people in the Lancashire locality and reducing the number of people being treated outside of this area.
Future inpatient services will be provided from four purpose built inpatient units including The Orchard in Lancaster and The Harbour in Blackpool.
Engagement DirectorLancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust