Scandal of NHS trust’s empty homes

HEALTH chiefs have been slammed for leaving £200,000 worth of Lancaster properties unoccupied and gathering dust while they bid to save £9.9m amid public spending cuts.

One of the homes, 9 Clare Road, Skerton, is in disrepair and is believed to have been empty for seven years, while the other, 15 Clare Road, is understood to have been vacant for three years.

Neighbour Pauline Wren, 60, who has lived next door to number nine with her husband Barry for 32 years, has complained to NHS North Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT), which owns the houses. She believes that in the past the next door property had been used to house doctors working at the former Beaumont Hospital, then for mental health patients released from Moor Hospital and Ridge Lea Hospital.

For a short period until about seven years ago she said it had been leased to residential tenants. Scaffolding was put up to re-roof the property, but no work was done and it was removed after 18 months.

In January, slates fell from the roof, damaging the back of Mrs Wren’s car and scaffolding was again erected after she reported the incident. A skip appeared on the drive two months ago but no work has been carried out.

Mrs Wren, a locality nurse for mental health assessments at NHS Cumbria, said she could not understand why the houses had not been sold years ago, with the proceeds used to finance nurses’ salaries.

“It is evident money is being