MASTIN MOOR: End of road for £4m hospital

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A £4m hospital caring for people with mental health problems in north Derbyshire has closed after just one year of care.

Blackshale and Silkstone House, at Mastin Moor, was touted as a unique facility when it opened last year - but just 12 months on the high-tech building stands redundant and empty.

The scheme, led by the charity Turning Point, included two 14-bedroom specialist hospitals to care for people with a range of mental health problems, personality disorders or learning disabilities.

The project saw two adjoining blocks - one for men and one for women - built along with courtyards, landscaping and a car park.

Around 90 members of staff were set to be employed at the centre to care for patients - some of which were detained under the Mental Health Act, had complex needs, were substance misusers or offenders who required intensive support.

Turning Point, the UK’s leading social care organisation, had claimed there was a shortage of provision for people who needed high levels of rehabilitation.

But this week the charity told the Derbyshire Times it had withdrawn from providing services at Mastin Moor ‘due to the changing economic environment’ - a decision that had not been taken lightly - and the hospital was never running at full capacity with only 30 people working there previously.

Cllr John Burrows, Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader, said: “We are extremely disappointed to find out that Turning Point has shut its site at Mastin Moor with the loss of local jobs and the disruption that will be caused to the lives of the patients.

“After we worked so hard to help Turning Point come to Mastin Moor to create local jobs in the first place it is particularly disappointing that the first we were told of this was after the site had closed. We can only assume that it is a commercial decision they have taken.”

Staveley Town Council clerk Graeme Challands added: “The town council was 100 per cent supportive of this project on the grounds that Turning Point was going to treat local people. We also welcomed the proposed jobs boost.”

The Derbyshire Times asked the charity why it had poured money in to the flawed project.

A spokesman for Turning Point said: “We borrowed money at our own risk to fund the building of the service, backed by a robust business plan, however the economy changed while we were building and therefore it was no longer viable for us to deliver the service.”

Audrey Booth, of Dronfield, who has been involved in mental health care for over 30 years and is a member of North Derbyshire Mental Health Carers Forum, said the loss of the facility was a huge blow to the area.

She added: “There is an absolute need for this. Not only in North Derbyshire but all over the country.

“There hasn’t ever been enough hospital beds in Chesterfield.”

Audrey helped set up the forum in 1983 after caring for her son who suffers from mental health problems.

She said: “There is a lack of funding for people with mental health problems and this has been going on for years. The mentally ill are at the bottom of the list for everything.”

Turning Point said the patients using the service were all transferred to alternative accommodation to ensure the continuation of their care.

A spokesman added they had supported staff to find alternative employment opportunities, wherever possible.

Natascha Engel, MP for North East Derbyshire, said: “The loss of the hospital so quickly after it opened is very disappointing not only for those who received care, but also for its employees.

“I understand the reason for the closure was because of the low number of referrals. It is a shame that it did not have the time to develop to show the level of care that it could have provided to people with difficult health issues.”

Turning Point said the venture, which received NHS funded referrals from across the country, did not involve NHS or council funding.

NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group chair Dr Steve Lloyd said: “We were satisfied with the care provided at Silkstone Hospital and played no part in the decision to close it.

“The closure doesn’t create a gap in the local healthcare market as comparable services are provided elsewhere.

“We referred a total of five patients to the hospital.”

The charity remain the owners of the building and are seeking alternative solutions for occupancy and onward sales.

A spokesman said: “Turning Point has reviewed its current operations and as a result has decided to withdraw from providing the services at Mastin Moor at this time.

“The decision has not been made lightly but due to the changing economic environment, the resources required to support the services on an ongoing basis has meant that the organisation has had to look to alternative solutions.”