A shakeup of acute dementia care in south east London’s hospitals could see all services moved out to Bromley.
Maudsley Hospital bosses have suggested moving all acute dementia care to a new “specialist” ward in Chelsham House – part of Bethlem Royal Hospital – whose closest train station is West Wickham.
All care for “functional” disorders (such as psychotic, mood and anxiety) would instead be focused in Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, and the Hayworth Ward of University Hospital Lewisham in Ladywell.
The proposals were explained in an agenda published for Southwark Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s most recent meeting, on July 13.
It said the change was needed because: “A mix of patients with different disorders… can be distressing for patients (e.g. a patient with severe anxiety/depression may be distressed by being on a ward with people with severe dementia and agitation).”
It also said splitting up the two types of mental health care would enable staff to “specialise and become highly skilled in either dementia or functional illness care”.
The total number of beds available in each of the three hospitals would remain at 54, the report said.
But the proposals were rounded on by Tom White, health spokesman for Southwark Pensioners Action Group, called the proposals “an excuse to cut services”.
“It is important for these patients to have family support, so it would be distressing, for instance, for family members in Bermondsey to have to travel to West Wickham,” Tom said.
Tom has long campaigned for Maudsley Hospital bosses to reopen its mental health A&E. He said the decision to close it caused “distress” to mental-health patients by forcing them to use the King’s College Hospital A&E, designed for people with physical health problems.
A spokesman for South London Maudlsey NHS Foundation Trust told the News: “The proposal means people can be admitted to a dementia or mental health ward which best meets their specific clinical need.
“Patient and carer preferences will continue to be accommodated by staff and there is a hospital bus between the Maudsley Hospital and the Bethlem Royal Hospital that carers can use at no cost.”
The spokesman said that King’s A&E is equipped specialist psychiatric liaison teams and that “a joined-up, preventative approach for physical and mental health, helps to ensure the needs of those experiencing mental distress are met”.