NHS England have published the result of their consultation into learning disability and autism services. They received over 1000 responses and NHS England announced that they will proceed with option one, which was to cease commissioning learning disability services at Whalley in Lancashire. Mersey Care operates its specialist learning disability division from Whalley which mainly consists of forensic medium and low secure services for around 140 service users. The site was a standalone Trust until 2016 when acquired by Mersey Care.
A Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “We are aware the outcome of the consultation for the proposed redesign of learning disability and autistic spectrum disorder services in the North West has been published by NHS England today.
“While we recognise the results of the consultation, we remain committed to retaining our skilled and dedicated NHS staff as part of a new clinical model, the development of which was led by Mersey Care. It aims to support a community of small, bespoke inpatient facilities and crisis intervention to reduce admission into services, which we believe will lead to innovation and deliver real therapeutic benefits for service users.
“Mersey Care both understands and supports the objectives of Transforming Care, the NHS England report into the future of learning disabilities, and welcomes the opportunity to develop new services in co-production with our highly-trained staff.
“The Trust supports service modernisation but we do not believe that moving our low secure services from Whalley is a decision that is cost effective at a time when NHS finances are already under great pressure and scrutiny.
“As such, we are disappointed that NHS England will no longer commission services from our Specialist Learning Disability site in Whalley. This would also result in the closure of a site rated as ‘good’ in the Care Quality Commission’s last report.
“As an organisation, Mersey Care is proud to have inherited the legacy of excellent community partnerships at our Whalley site since acquiring Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust last year. That includes many experienced and compassionate staff, who deliver services from mostly 21st century buildings in a high quality location.
“We believe the relationship with the village and our neighbours in Whalley is very special and helps provide a therapeutic setting to support people with learning disabilities and other developmental disorders, who present with extremes of challenging and offending behaviour.
“As a provider of secure services for people with complex forensic histories, our priority is to support and care for some of the most vulnerable patients in the NHS system. We will continue to work with them as we consult with commissioners on a new clinical model.”