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Patients and GPs kept in dark over closure of NHS mental health centre in Stoke Newington

PUBLISHED: 11:22 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:23 03 April 2017

The service is moving from Anita House in Stoke Newington this month. Picture: Google Maps

The service is moving from Anita House in Stoke Newington this month. Picture: Google Maps

Archant

Vulnerable patients and their GPs have been left stunned after discovering a vital mental health support service is being uprooted with no consultation.

But NHS bosses said their hands were tied because the centre’s landlord was hiking the rent by £100,000 a year.

In two weeks, the North Hackney Recovery team is leaving Anita House in Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington, for a Homerton University Hospital building. And the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) has been roundly criticised for its handling of the move.

The centre is the first point of contact for 1,400 people in the area with severe mental illnesses and also supports their families and carers.

One user, who asked to be known as Tony, questioned why patients weren’t consulted.

He said: “If it hadn’t been for me overhearing two healthcare professionals talking about it I wouldn’t be aware and neither would anyone else. Why weren’t we told about this? I can drive, so can get to Homerton. But many people find it difficult to travel on public transport. It will cost them more, too.”

Tony, who used to work in the media, started using the service years ago. “I can call at any time in working hours,” he said. “If I have any problems I can get a call back. It’s one of the only places people can go to feel safe.”

Dr Nikhil Katiyar, of Barton House surgery, refers patients to the centre, but only found out about the move from Tony.

“The trust has consulted with us on other changes so I don’t know why they haven’t on this,” he said. “I’m not that happy because I’m sure there would have been a view from patients and the practice about it.”

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott has also written to the trust to “express concern”. She told the Gazette: “There has been an apparent lack of any meaningful consultation with affected groups before this sudden move.

“Hackney North will lose much needed mental health provision and some of my constituents will have to travel for up to an hour to get to their appointments. This is very disappointing.”

Team manager Derek Miller said the team was sad to be leaving its home of 20 years, but they had no choice.

He said: “The rent was going up by £100,000 which would not have been a cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money.

“We looked for suitable alternatives nearby and settled on Vivienne Cohen House which is only 2.5 miles away and is well-served by bus routes and transport connections.”

He said there would be talks with patients about their needs.

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