The Beds in the Orchard Campaign received its first official response from the Trust this afternoon via our Twitter account @OrchardBeds from @LancashireCare.
Here's what they had to say and, of course, our response.
@OrchardBeds The decision to operate male only beds at The Orchard is a temporary measure and is under constant review. (1/5)
We can't argue about whether or not this is true as we only have this statement from the Trust about it. However; we do know that some Trust staff have been advised The Orchard may revert back to mixed provision once The Harbour opens in March 2015, suggesting that it is not under constant review as the decision has already been made. We are open to concede there may have been a communication problem if staff have not been informed about it remaining male only until the opening of The Harbour.
Regardless of whether this is temporary or not, it is impacting women and families now. It is hurting female service users now and there remains no clinical benefit to women from the closure.
@OrchardBeds There is a peak in demand for male beds & a reduction in demand for female beds - we have empty female beds at present. (2/5)
Two responses here. Firstly, it is likely that the peak in demand for male beds is linked to the trust closing a 15 bed male ward in Burnley and it is rather disingenuous to cite demand for male beds being the driving factor after closing 15 of them.
Secondly, the point about empty female beds is slightly misleading. The status of beds can change on an hourly basis. From personal experience a bed can be taken in the time it takes to have a consultation with your psychiatrist about whether you should go into hospital or not. A freedom of information request has already been submitted to the trust about how many women they've sent out of area in the last 4 years, often to private hospitals that should clarify demand.
We also directed them to this post - http://bedsintheorchard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/is-based-on-need-self-fulfilling.html
This isn't about empty beds. Its about denying a whole group of service users access to local inpatient care solely based on their sex.
@OrchardBeds All Trust facilities have the ability to flex male/female beds in line with demand. (3/5)
This is indeed True. The Orchard had two 'swing' beds that could change between male and female. There were 10 fixed male beds and 6 fixed female beds. Up until recently, the two swing beds were female. The trust could have swung those beds to male, giving them 12 male and 6 female beds at The Orchard. Instead they decided to deny access to a whole group of service users from a wide area.
It is rather disappointing that the Trust sees removing access to local inpatient care to all women in the Lancaster area as 'flexing'.
@OrchardBeds The Orchard will revert to mixed sex as soon as this is clinically appropriate. (4/5)
There's nothing we can really say about this other than, how is it clinically appropriate to deny women access to local inpatient care. No, seriously. Our twitter handler has replied that we will be happy to discuss this with someone qualified to explain the clinical benefits to women of sending them out of the area for treatment.
@OrchardBeds We would be happy to discuss this further with you and you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org (5/5)
One of our team had already emailed the complaints department with the letter we published here
We will publish their response as soon as they receive it.