Fears have been raised that vulnerable patients have been left with "nowhere to turn" by the pending closure of a failing autism and mental health service.

Heywood-based LANCuk made the decision to end its autism and ADHD "pathway" after being rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission for the fourth time in five years. Its contract ends in March.

NHS Greater Manchester says a new provider will be contacting patients about upcoming appointments and local GPs have been advised how to handle urgent referrals.

But Wayne Fletcher says his son Ryan – who has autism,  ADHD and Tourettes – and  vulnerable people like him have been left in limbo and unable to get the medication they need for their conditions.

Ryan, now 19, has been under LANCuk for more than a year after transferring from children’s mental health services.

At a recent appointment it was agreed he needed medication to help him with concentration, relaxation and sleeping patterns.

But because he had previously come off medication he was treated as a "new" patient – meaning he fell foul of CQC restrictions that stopped LANCuk from accepting any new or repeat patients to its prescribing service.

Meanwhile Ryan’s GP was unable to prescribe for him as they had not been sent details of his condition and the medication needed to treat it.

The situation has left Wayne, from Prestwich, deeply frustrated – particularly as LANCuk indicated it was waiting for new arrangements to be made before notifying patients of the pending change.

The 50-year-old, who has ADHD and is also a LANCuk patient, said he made his feelings known to the service.

“I said ‘you know your service is ending and you are purposely not informing your patients,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“You should be informing your patients that in a couple of weeks they will have nowhere to turn to. The GP can’t give meds out as it’s not their area of expertise.

“You are sat there knowing full well it will be a detriment to all your patients and you are not doing a single thing about it.”

Wayne explains that people with conditions such as autism or severe anxiety struggle to cope with change, unless it is professionally managed and they have time to adjust.

And he worries that the delay in notifying patients could come as a "bombshell" to many.

“My biggest fear isn’t about me, it’s more for the vulnerable adults with bigger issues than us.

"Why aren’t they being told? Why aren’t they being informed? They have no idea what’s coming down the line. 

“There’s potentially going to be an issue. They say to you about patient choice, but you can only have choice if  you are informed.

"There is no information getting through – we have had no letters, no emails.”

He classes Ryan as a "vulnerable adult" – as he particularly struggles with social interaction outside of a small friendship group.

“But I know there are a lot of people that are a lot worse,” he said.

“I look at Ryan and think ‘if that’s how it’s going to affect Ryan, how is it going to affect everybody else?’ he adds.”

Nadia Baig, assistant director for transformation and delivery for NHS Greater Manchester (HMR locality) said arrangements for LANCuk patients were now being made to ensure continuity of care with an alternative provider  – and those affected would be contacted by LANC UK to cancel their appointments.

She added: “The new provider will be contacting patients  for upcoming appointments once these arrangements are confirmed.

"Local GPs have been advised of what actions to take where an urgent referral is required and will be advised of the process to refer to alternative providers.

"All agencies involved deem patient safety to be of paramount importance in implementing the CQC’s decision.”