Protesters Say No To Private Mental Health Unit

More than 100 protesters took to the streets in a demonstration against a new hospital for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems. Villagers in Breaston fear that patients at Middlestead House could be dangerous.

So yesterday they brandished banners and placards objecting to the live-in rehabilitation centre, which is due to open next month in Draycott Road in the village. They hope that their actions will make the company which is to run the hospital, Care Principles, think again about moving there.

Mandy Pendreigh, 36, of Hayes Avenue, took part in the demonstration outside the hospital. She said: “The protest was very successful but I was disappointed that someone from the company wasn’t there to speak to us. It was peaceful and we just wanted to put our point across. If they don’t take any notice of us we will carry on protesting until something is done about this.”

Another demonstrator, Colin Simmons, said he hoped Care Principles had got the message. “They knew we were protesting and I think they could have made an effort to come and speak to the residents and listen to their views. There is no barbed-wire fencing or security separating the hospital from the homes of people – nothing apart from a field. That is very worrying.”

Chris Newcombe, 47, of The Crescent, Breaston, described the opening of the centre as “very worrying.” He said: “There was no prior consultation with residents about this and it looks like they have just pushed it through. I have daughters and I am worried about their safety but I am also worried about the pensioners in the area. You hear stories all the time of people escaping from these kinds of places.”

The independent hospital, which will be regulated by the Healthcare Commission, will house 18 people and employ 40 members of staff. Care Principles was unavailable to comment yesterday but previously the company has said its duty to the public is a primary consideration.

A spokeswoman said: “We only admit those people who, following comprehensive assessment, are considered appropriate for care there. Every patient who leaves the grounds, either escorted or unescorted, does so with ongoing in-depth assessment. This is to ensure it’s safe, both for themselves and others in the community.”

The spokeswoman said most of the residents would have the same rights as any other member of the public. This means that they would not be restricted in any way, other than for their own care and protection.