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
    Little
    .

    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
    relatives.”

    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
    needed. 

    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
    Mind.

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