Calderstones protesters to hit the streets

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Staff at closure-threatened Calderstones Hospital are calling on supporters to join them on Saturday for a rally and march through Whalley.

They face an uncertain future when Calderstones NHS Trust is taken over by Mersey Care NHS Trust in July, leading to complete closure of Calderstones in three years as recommended by Sir Stephen Bubb in his report on mental health care.

The marchers are gathering at Whalley Arms car park at 12-30 pm to hear speakers from the main union Unison, Blackburn Trades Union Council and Lancashire TUC, and possibly some parents of Calderstones service users.

After the rally, they will march through Whalley to the entrance to Calderstones, the only remaining NHS hospital specialising in adults with learning disabilities.

Unison branch secretary Chris Chamley said: “We are saying ‘Don’t dump our service users’ because we’re afraid they’ll be put out into the community with inadequate care, and the contract for their care will go to the lowest bidder.

“Some of our clients will be transferred to the care of Lancashire County Council, but they’re already struggling badly with cuts, and the funding they’re being given is only enough for three hours a day rather then the 24/7 care they get now.

“We have two new buildings at Calderstones, built with the last seven years, that cost £17.9 million, and closing them will just be a waste of public money.

“We hope to raise awareness of what the closure will mean. This is just the beginning of the campaign.”

More than 1,200 people are employed by the Calderstones NHS Trust, mostly at Whalley and some out in the community or at other sites at Lancaster, Rochdale and Gisburn.