Anger over plans to close 10 specialist care centres

Norfolk is to shut 10 specialist care centres and leave more than 60 people with profound learning disabilities to be cared for in the community.

Norfolk is to shut 10 specialist care centres and leave more than 60 people with profound learning disabilities to be cared for in the community.

Families of the patients - including people suffering from Down's Syndrome, dementia, epilepsy and severe physical handicaps - have accused Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) of abandoning their disabled relatives.

The NHS campus accommodation is being closed by PCTs across the country as a result of a government directive in its White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.

Between next year and 2010, campuses will shut in Aylsham, Felthorpe, Hales, Attleborough, Taverham, King's Lynn and Stoke Ferry and patients will be resettled in homes of their own.

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In Suffolk and Waveney 86 patients will be relocated and two NHS campus sites will be shut down.

Families of the patients fear the strain of the move could be fatal

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and that their relatives will no

longer receive the level of care they need.

The PCT claims that the changes will allow the patients to lead a more independent life in their own homes but admits the new system is likely to be more costly to run.

Jean Daniels, 67, of Swaffham, is the sister of David Roe, 54, who is one of about 16 residents at Greenfields in Hales, near Loddon, who will be relocated after it shuts in May


David, who is one of the more profoundly handicapped people cared for at the campuses, suffers from Down's Syndrome and dementia, cannot move below the waist and is unable to wash, eat or turn himself over without help.

"My greatest concern is that if they move him then they could kill him; his doctor even agreed that could be the case," said Mrs Daniels.

"There are disabled people in those homes who need 24-hour care. How are they going to provide that?

"It is like David and the others are being brushed to one side - we should have been consulted."

The PCT says it is too early to say what would happen to staff at the campuses but says it expects that new roles could be found for a number of them.

Last night Norfolk South West MP Christopher Fraser said he had written to the Department of Health to ask for a full explanation for the Government's decision to close all NHS Campus accommodation.

He said: "I was very sorry to learn of Mrs Daniels' concern for her brother's future welfare when Greenfields is closed. I have also taken up Mr Roe's case with Norfolk Primary Care Trust. While I appreciate that many adults with learning difficulties can live happily and safely in community-based accommodation, I am extremely worried about those for whom this is not a viable prospect because of the constant help and personal care that they need."

Bob Mee, interim director of learning difficulties at Norfolk PCT, said: "Many adults with learning difficulties do not need to live in long-term NHS accommodation, but could live a much more independent life in a home of their own, with the appropriate community-based support."

He said that caring for these people in their own homes was likely to cost more every year as more staff were likely to be needed but that the Department of Health would help the PCT meet the cost, with the DoH providing £175m to PCTs across the country until 2010.

The PCT says that families will be consulted and each patient will be assessed to ensure they are receiving the same level of care as in the campus accommodation, with many having 24-hour support staff.

It says it is working with social housing landlords to provide appropriate accommodation and that the location of these homes will be chosen on the basis of where family and friends live and available services.

The government's approach is that adults with learning difficulties do not need to live in NHS Campus accommodation when they can more appropriately live in their own


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