Uncertain future for two north Norfolk closed hospitals

The future of two closed private psychiatric hospitals in north Norfolk remains uncertain as administrators consider the best way forward for the empty properties.

The future of two closed private psychiatric hospitals in north Norfolk remains uncertain as administrators consider the best way forward for the empty properties.

Cawston Park hospital and Kelling Park care home both closed in late November after their parent company went into administration.

Administrator Deloitte is currently investigating whether the 130-acre Cawston site should be split up to help ensure the best possible sale price for the complex, which includes an award-winning purpose-built secure unit as well as converted Victorian buildings. But they have also come under criticism for the speed and manner in which the closures were carried out, and the impact on vulnerable patients.

The hospitals and sister unit Stubbs House children's home at Loddon came under threat when owners Chancellor Care went into administration in the wake of the collapsed major fraud case against former chief executive Andrew Breeze and former finance director Dominic Wilson.

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Deloitte is in the process of selling Stubbs House as a going concern, but said Cawston and Kelling remained unsold after two years, resulting in a decision to wind them up in late November due to insufficient funding.

About 135 full-time and part-time staff were made redundant and primary care trusts around the country moved patients from the 53-bed Cawston hospital and 23-room care home at Kelling over a two-week period to other psychiatric units around the country.

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Lead administrator Nick Edwards said: 'The initial priority was to make the closing as efficient as possible in difficult circumstances. We are now securing the site and in due course it will be sold. We will make a decision about splitting the properties in the next few months.'

Mr Breeze, who was cleared of fraud after a two-year investigation and is still a 30pc shareholder in the business, said he wanted to mount a rescue bid but by the time he was approached it was too late.

'The tragedy is that this could have been prevented,' he said. 'I want to know why Mr Wilson and I were not approached earlier.'

He added that the speed of the closure had led to problems for patients.

North Norfolk MP and Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb has joined former staff members in questioning Deloitte's approach.

'The administrators do have to act as quickly as possible but there is a duty of care towards the patients,' he said. 'There is a question mark in my mind over how the closure was carried out. Those with complex needs have to be treated with real care and attention and I have raised the question of how much their particular needs were taken into account in the rush to close.'

A former nurse who did not want to be named said: 'We lost our jobs, we lost our livelihoods and a lot of us are struggling to find new jobs, but what happened to the patients is heartbreaking.'

Mr Edwards said the closure was carried out in consultation with the authorities and with doctors and clinicians working at Cawston Park.

Did you have family or friends in Cawston Park or Kelling Park? Call reporter Mary Hamilton on 01263 512732.

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