Moving mental health wards outside of the Chichester area must be supported by better transport options for visiting families, a public meeting heard on Tuesday, August 13.
A consultation is ongoing into the proposals from the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to close the Harold Kidd unit in Chichester and move patients to newer wards in Crawley and Worthing.
Clinicans at a public meeting at Edes House explained government standards dictated a move to single sex wards and the dated Harold Kidd building could not be converted without ‘prohibitive’ costs and a loss of beds.
But attendees raised concerns about how loved ones would be able to visit, particularly given a lack of community transport options.
“It’s so rural round here, there is no transport,” one attendee said. “Some of these carers won’t have good mobility themselves, they may be old and caring for people with dementia, how are they going to get to Worthing?”
Matt Powls, the director of mental health care for Sussex CCGs, gave assurances a solution could include options such as a minibus or overnight stays for families and carers.
GP Bikram Raychaudhuri, clinical lead for mental health with the CCG that covers Chichester, explained the hope was that by strengthening community services, fewer people would need hospital care.
He added that he was excited to have a ‘centre of excellence’ in Worthing that would allow for an overlap of mental and physical care.
The meeting heard the majority of patients at the Harold Kidd unit came from elsewhere in Sussex and further afield.
Simone Button, COO of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said people were sometimes hospitalised far from home, with some present agreeing there were cases of people being sent to facilities in Manchester and Northampton.
“[The changes] would at least mean that hopefully everybody who is resident in West Sussex, over time, will be placed in a bed in West Sussex,” she said.
The consultation is open until October 11. Respond online and view documents at www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/west-sussex-consultation or phone 0300 304 0330.