Women leave hospital despite legal action

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THREE ELDERLY mentally handicapped women were last night being moved out of a hospital that had been their home for several years, despite last minute legal moves to halt the transfer.

Hours after being asked for an undertaking not to move the women without the approval of the Official Solicitor and Social Services, the patients, one aged 80, were getting ready to be transferred to another hospital 15 miles away.

Powys NHS Trust said the move would make more effective use of resources as well as being better for the women.

The move from Brynhyffryd Hospital, Forden, in Powys, to Llys Maldwyn Hospital, Caersws, which will allow the Nightingale Ward to be closed, was being carried out despite protests by social services, lawyers, a psychologist and nurses.

Luke Clements, a solicitor appointed by the Crisis Advocacy Team in Powys, Mid Wales, to act for the women had earlier in the day tried to get the Official Solicitor to halt the move on the grounds that it was a danger to their health. 'A clinical psychologist, a therapist and nursing staff have all indicated that the health of the three ladies may well suffer with a transfer,' he said.

'We have been trying to contact the official solicitor. It is clear that the move is not in the interests of the three ladies and may well be contrary to correct policy and a danger to their health.'

Powys social services say there is a risk to the health and welfare of the women in the move, including disorientation, increased confusion, fear and loneliness. Social services wanted the women to stay in Nightingale Ward until a resettlement plan had been worked out for them. The women are the last remaining patients in the ward and their transfer will allow it to be closed. The hospital too is scheduled for closure.

The trust spokeswoman said: 'The Trust Board based its decision on the best long-term interests of the individuals concerned. The move will also mean a more effective use of resources.'