Saturday, 1 November 2014

Closing female beds punishes women and families on low incomes

The closure of female inpatient care at The Orchard has a disproportionate effect on women and families on low incomes. It restricts the ability of families and friends to visit and leaves them with stark choices.  Do they visit their loved one, sacrificing other things that they need, or do they stay away?

Visiting people has significant costs in terms of time and money.  Lets take Blackpool as an example.  To get to visit someone by local transport, you will need the return train ticket from Lancaster to Blackpool North stations, then bus fares to and from Lancaster Station and between Blackpool North and Parkwood Hospital.

Single Adult Visiting
Train, Adult Day Return £14.50.  Journey time 1h11m each way, (variable time to change trains).
Bus, Lancashire Day Rider (cheapest option) £7.20.  Journey times between 30 mins - 1 hour each way.

Total Cost  £21.40 return
Journey Time - Between 3h22m and 4h22.mins return.

Adult visiting with two children.
Train: One adult and two children  £29.00
Bus, Family Day Rider (cheapest option) £16.50  Journey times between 30 mins - 1 hour each way.
Total Cost £45.50

If you factor in the length of your visit, then a trip to see a loved one will take up to 6 hours in journey and visiting time.That is a day off work, or a very long trip for small children in particular.  For many families, £45.50 is money that they would struggle to find and certainly would result in less visits, or in some cases any visits at all.  This has a negative impact for all involved.

While people who have access to a car, may be able to reach the hospitals more easily, there is still a cost in petrol and parking and still a cost of time taken.

Women who are in low income families are disproportionally affected by the removal of local beds, both financially and emotionally as they are less able to see their families, friends and access other local support.


  1. Are they the same as Parkwood Holdings, the private company run for shareholer profit?

  2. I don't think so as its tied to Blackpool Victoria Hospital. It's stats on the NHS pages certainly make for interesting reading though. Only meeting 58% of planned qualified day nurses and 82% of planned qualified night nurses, it looks like the wards are being run by the unregistered care staff at 132 and 128% of planned staff. I suppose its cheaper to bring in bank unqualified staff than it would be to use qualified nurses. No wonder it has a bad reputation amongst service users.


  4. And less than 2/3rds of the staff would recommend it for themselves or a family member is not particularly good either.
    Wouldn't really matter if it was 100% recommended anyway. Lancaster area service users having to go to Blackpool is ridiculous. Even Preston would be better, although not ideal.
    I can't believe there are no minimum provision rules for services in each area (barring extreme emergencies) and that families are being treated in such a cavalier way.

  5. You mention the risk of extra hospitalisation for women due to the lack of local hospital facilities. In the incredible story revealing a snapshot of one person's experience where she was 'waiting for a train' it seems that she was referring euphemistically to fatal self harm, a euphamism we often hear meaning suicide. It appears that the greatest danger of all, over and above the risk for more hospitalisation is that this woman was at greater risk of suicide, with all the horrendous resulting effects upon those involved, especially the children.
    Do you have an opinion about the potential that these woman are at higher risk of suicide, higher even than the risk of avoiding seeking help due to the lack of facilities near to their home?

  6. Our genuine concern is that women deterred from seeking help will deteriorate until they are not able to make rational decisions. While no one can predict whether someone will take their own life or not, it is possible that women who are not engaging with mental health services are certainly at more risk of self harm than those who are.

    1. Thank you.
      I so agree.
      Even if they don't deteriorate, which they most likely will, there sufferring and the suffering o family and friends will be prolonged; unnecessarily.
      An awful situation for all concerned.

  7. So what are the Trust doing about this? I've followed this Blog avidly, because I have needed the service whist it was at Ridge Lea. Thankfully I'm well at the moment, but it made me feel physically sick when I envisaged being sent far away from my family and friends. We don't have transport or funds for travelling to Manchester and reading about the time for travelling to Blackpool showed how difficult it would be for my partner to combine work, childcare and bringing my child to seem me.
    Please sort this out ASAP. Can we have a campaign to get The Orchard to reverse its decision, before Christmas which is a really difficult time for a lot of women with Mental health issues.

  8. Its a feeling that a lot of the local female service users have. The fear of being separated from their friends and family and the difficulties families would face getting to visit.

    We've had an invitation today to meet with the Trust to discuss further, but we do have some concerns that they won't actually address or acknowledge the issues, but talk in general terms, as they did on the BBC Lancashire radio interview.

    We know that they have done research with service users which says that SUs wouldn't mind being treated away from home, despite the fact that everyone who we have talked to locally disagrees with that completely, particularly the women and their families.

    We are doing our best to change this decision, but we're certainly up against it.