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Campaign to reinstate the Mental Health Unit in Medway

July 30, 2017 7:59 PM

Medway Hospital's Mental Health Unit was closed in Dec 2013 by Jeremy Hunt because it was claimed to be not fit for purpose.
KMPT (Kent and Medway's mental health trust) spent more than £5.6 million on out of area referrals in 2016 due to a shortage of beds for patients. KMPT stopped sending patients out of area in 2016 recognising the high cost of doing so was not providing a good quality of care. However, the local service in Medway is still not being provided, patients who are referred from Medway still have to travel, the closest specialist service being in Dartford.
It is unacceptable that the Police have to deal with mental health patients. A third of all police time is taken up having to look after people with Mental Health Illness, and this time would be better spent tackling crime.

We are campaigning to reinstate a fit for purpose unit in Medway. If you agree, sign our petition.

The Story of the Mental Health Unit in Medway

Closure in 2013

Until its closure there was a Mental Health Unit in Medway, even at this time there were referrals out of Medway. In 2013, Jeremy Hunt the Secretary of State for Health closed the unit because it was deemed to be "not fit for purpose". No purposeful equivalent alternative service has been provided since then.

Out of Area Referrals

Between 2013 and 2016, KMPT (Kent and Medway's health and social care Trust), spent over £5.6m on out of area referrals. Thankfully in the Summer of 2016 the Chief Executive realised this high cost of referrals was not providing good quality care and stopped the practice. However, patients in Medway are still being transferred to specialist units, the closest being in Dartford. These referrals are not classed as out of area by KMPT since they fall within the Trust.

Services still not provided

The situation we have now is that Medway has a growing population and mental health should rightly be viewed as equal in priority to physical health. It is essential that the services provided by a mental health unit are made available in Medway, thereby reducing referrals to a minimum in order to provide a high quality of care and good value for money.

Sustainability and Transformation Plan

The Tory government in Westiminster is expecting the NHS to make £22bn worth of cuts by 2020. This represents about a third of the total NHS budget and here in Kent we shall have to make £486m worth of cuts, which includes:

  • the closure of one A&E department
  • the closure or downgrading of one hospital
  • the loss of 296 acute beds
  • 25% of GP surgeries
  • the closure of some pharmacies.

This plan makes no mention of providing the services of a mental health unit in Medway.

Better is possible

Medway has not had a fit for purpose unit since before the unit closed in 2013. Medway has a growing population, the local council are keen to build new houses, however the service infrastructure for healthcare and education always lags behind. We would prefer to see a better Medway rather than a bigger Medway.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 adults will access Mental Health services at some point in their life. Mental Health service provision has been lacking in Medway since before the closure.
We call on the Secretary of State to provide a fit for purpose Mental Health Unit in Medway.