The consultation on the future of the flagship Henderson Hospital for people with personality disorders was called into question at a public meeting last week.
South West London and St George’s NHS Mental Health Trust temporarily shut the 29-bed hospital in Sutton, south London, in May after a dramatic drop in referrals. It could reopen if the number rose.
Councillors from Sutton, Merton and Hillingdon in London, and Medway and Tunbridge Wells in Kent, who have formed a committee to scrutinise the consultation, held a public meeting last week on the issue.
The committee’s vice-chair, Merton councillor Sheila Knight, warned that the consultation – due to report by next June – was so lengthy it could prevent the hospital being reopened “because it will have been closed for so long”.
The Henderson is still running an outreach service and handling assessments for new referrals, and there are two similar facilities where people can be treated.
Knight said, in the absence of the Henderson’s service, officials leading the consultation should keep data on the number of people referred for treatment since the hospital’s closure and what happens to them.
She said: “If you want us to take this seriously you need to take things like that on board.”
Funding for the hospital, which had a six-month waiting list, was transferred from the Department of Health to PCTs across the three regions in 2006 and referrals fell as some PCTs withdrew funding.
Members of the Ex-Resident Action Group, which is campaigning for the hospital to remain open, also attended the meeting.
A member of the Ex-Residents Campaign Group said : “There are a lot of people out there who are really dangerous. I could have ended up in prison for the rest of my life if it wasn’t for the Henderson.”
In September, the 62 primary care trusts in London, the South East and eastern England which commission places at the Henderson will hold a public consultation into its future and that of similar services.
More on the closure
Henderson Hospital campaign bids to fight closure