Orchard Hill
Fountain Drive, Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 4NR
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1988 - 2009

Long-stay mentally handicapped

Orchard Hill was established in the early 1980s in the grounds of Queen Mary's Hospital for Children.  It was to provide a permanent home for many of the patients with learning disabilities who had been admitted as young children from the Fountain Hospital in 1959 and had grown to adulthood at Queen Mary's.

New patients were also admitted to Orchard Hill from the community, while less severely disabled patients were transferred to other homes.    Orchard Hill specialised in caring for patients with profound disabilties.  In 1988 it split from the Queen Mary's Hospital administration.

In the early 1990s national policy for learning disability services changed.  It was decided that people with learning disabilities needed to be supported in a social care setting, not a hospital.

In 1991 there were 189 residents at Orchard Hill.  By 1992 the number had reduced to 169 as people were resettled into the community.  In 1998 there were 124 residents, reduced to 120 in 1999.  

In 1999 a decision to close Orchard Hill was taken by the Merton Sutton and Wandsworth Health Authority.  This was challenged, to no avail,  by the parents and relatives of three patients living at Orchard Hill, on account of its failure to take into account the promises of a home for life for people living at Orchard Hill and the psychological impact on the mentally handicapped residents of leaving the only home they had known.  

Gradually, alternative accommodation was found for the residents.  By 2003 there were 105 people still resident.  In 2006 the Hospital faced a scandal with suspicions of endemic abuse by some members of the staff; this was later confirmed by a Healthcare Commission investigation.

During 2007-2008, 79 of the 99 patients still in residence were transferred to other accommodation.

Present status (August 2008)

Orchard Hill, the last long-stay hospital in England for people with learning disabilities, is due to close at the end of April 2009, five years after the original government deadline for all long-stay hospitals to close.  

 The 20 people remaining will stay temporarily in their bungalows until their new purpose-built apartments are completed.  The staff caring for them will have their terms and conditions transferred from the NHS to the local authority.

Pinewood Lodge

Pinewood Lodge is still used by the Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust.
old building  old building
Boarded-up children's cottage blocks in Damson Way.

Orchard Hill  Orchard Hill
The modern bungalows are still in use.
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