MP acts to halt psychiatric unit closure

Families of 11 male long-term psychiatric patients have won
their campaign to stop health chiefs closing a purpose built
psychiatric unit, writes William

Acorn House in Reading was due to close after only 13 months,
despite concern that the 11 male patients were not ready to go back
into the community and fears over finding homes for them on other
appropriate psychiatric wards.

The success of the campaign follows the intervention of Reading
West MP Martin Salter who threatened to go to Downing Street if the
Trust did not back down.

Salter said, “We will prevent any movement of these extremely
vulnerable individuals without the consent of the

A joint statement issued by the MP and the Trust said the unit
would stay open for as long as the majority of places were

It added, “Patients will only be recommended for transfer to
other facilities if they are ready to move on and that a full and
unambiguous clinical and social care assessment indicates that this
is appropriate.

While the case for closing old long-stay hospitals is overwhelming,
it can often be extremely difficult and must be handled with the
utmost compassion and care, commented Andrew McCulloch of the
Mental Health Foundation.

“What is absolutely key is the need to work with families,
carers and patients to ensure alternative care arrangements will be
suitable, and a better option than the long-stay hospital,”
he added.

“Society as a whole has realised that locking people up long-term
is a mistake, and we now have a responsibility of care towards
those who have been affected by past mistakes,” said Sophie
Corlett, Director of Policy, at the mental health charity

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