Fears over mental health ward plans

Larch Ward

Larch Ward - Credit: Archant

Older mental health patients and their carers are worried about proposals to shut down a mental health ward in Hackney.

Mile End Hospital

Mile End Hospital - Credit: Archant

Axing 15 beds for patients aged over 65 with acute psychological problems like depression, schizophrenia, mood disorders or anxiety at The Lodge’s Larch Ward in Homerton Hospital, would mean they would have to travel an extra two-and-a-half miles for treatment at Leadenhall Ward at Mile End Hospital in Bancroft Road, Tower Hamlets.

City and Hackney, and Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Groups in partnership with East London NHS Foundation Trust argue both wards are often half empty, and that the move would enable the creation of a highly specialist inpatient service at Mile End.

Michael McGhee, director of mental health care of older people at the Trust, said: “We know that people prefer to be at home with support from staff as it helps them to recover more quickly.

“We have been able to increase the support we can offer people in their own homes which has resulted in fewer hospital admissions and shorter spells on our wards.

“So for some time, we have had high numbers of empty beds on both wards which is not good use of public money.

“The majority of rooms at Mile End will have en suite facilities to provide greater privacy to inpatients and, more importantly, there are other services at this location for people with physical issues as well as psychological issues.”

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But patients consulted by Healthwatch Hackney, which has compiled a report for the Trust, are not convinced closure is the best solution.

Amanda Elliot from Healthwatch Hackney said: “People are worried about travel, particularly the Haredi community as they can’t travel on public transport on the Sabbath. If they walked from Stamford Hill to spend the Sabbath with their loved one in Mile End it would be a much longer walk.

“Patients are worried about it, and they had concerns Leadenhall might not be such a therapeutic homely environment.”

Results of a consultation into the closure will be published in June.