Staff at Calderstones Hospital transferred their employment to Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in what could be an important step towards the closure of the hospital site in Whalley in 2018.
Around 900 staff transferred to the new employer, but there are fears that as many as 600 jobs could ultimately be lost.
And UNISON, the union that represents staff at Calderstones, are calling on Mersey Care and NHS England to re-think the closure plan.
Calderstones is a 223-bed NHS unit which provides high-quality care for people with learning disabilities and personality disorders. Health bosses are keen to move more services into the community and close down residential accommodation like that at Calderstones. But there are serious concerns about the lack of capacity in community care, and Mersey Care and NHS England intend to build new accommodation elsewhere in the North West – in locations that are yet to be determined.
Tim Ellis, Regional Organiser for UNISON North West, said: “The plan to build new facilities shows that there is an ongoing need for high-quality care in residential accommodation – which is precisely what we already have at Calderstones. It is wasteful and short-sighted to squander public money in this way, and it is unfair on service users to put them through an unsettling and unnecessary relocation.”
A spokesman for Calderstone Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are part of a major consultation into the future of services for people with learning disabilities, with input already from carers, clinicians and service users.
“This is an NHS England consultation about national LD policy, so it goes far beyond the two Trusts or indeed this region. It will be for the new organisation and its stakeholders and partners to be part of the discussion going forward as to what services – and in particular secure services – should be like.
“For now, the acquisition is a positive step forward with two CQC ‘good’ organisations coming together to deliver the very best clinical and forensic care.”