HEALTH chiefs look set to confirm Blackpool as the single site for severe dementia care in Lancashire, with the closure of about 60 beds around the county.
A specially-convened NHS committee has proposed the move despite major concerns about transport being raised during a 12-week public consultation. Bosses had pledged to consider alternative sites when they received the consultation results in March.
At the time the Lancashire Telegraph pointed out another location site was unlikely to be offered, as this would incur extra costs and potentially delay the project for years.
Building work has already started on a 154-bed mental health facility in Blackpool, called The Harbour, with 30 of the beds allocated for patients with severe dementia.
It is set to open in 2015.
The recommendation by the Joint Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Specialist Dementia Committee, which said it consulted Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, will now go before the county’s eight clinical commissioning groups.
Centralising specialist inpatient dementia care on one site will release an extra £4 million for community services, for those with less severe problems to be treated at home.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has been critical of the plans and made a speech on the issue in the House of Commons in January. He said: “I am disappointed that a more central location could not be found for the 30-bed inpatient unit, however I am reassured that community services will improve.”
Ron O’Keeffe, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee for health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I’m not happy that people will have to travel from the far reaches of East Lancashire to get there.
“It’s not a satisfactory solution but I do accept that with specialist cases you need to go to the best place. We thought there should be two units but obviously finances govern what can be done.”
The new unit would care for about 220 per year.
Units at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals will be among those to close. The Lancashire Telegraph has asked for more details about the work done to find an alternative site.