Labour Parliamentary candidate backs campaign to keep hospital wards open

Labour’s 2015 General Election candidate supports the campaign to keep Medway Maritime ‘A Block’ wards open

Labour's Parliamentary Candidate, Guy Nicholson

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Guy Nicholson

The Kent and Medway Partnership Trust and the Secretary of State for Health are to close two wards in ‘A Block’ at Medway Maritime Hospital; 35 Acute Adult care beds will be lost and all based on a confused and flawed rationale of the future need for Mental Health care services in Sittingbourne and Sheppey and the rest of Kent.

It was predicted that demand for Acute Adult beds would fall in the 6 years to 2014 from 207 to 112 because treatment and care would be improved over the same period and demand would fall.

The reality is quite different, current demand is averaging at 190 beds. But there are only 160 available and so to meet the demand £5 million has already been spent over 9 months in buying out of area bed space for patients. It is difficult to take the original predictions of 112, let alone the current revised prediction of 174 beds seriously.

There was a public consultation undertaken but it offered one option only – to reduce the provision of beds by closing A Block. The only way to disagree with the proposal was to abstain, so 80% of participants did exactly that. Only 13% of those who participated actually supported the closure of A Block. It is difficult to see how such a result could be interpreted as a vote of support for the closure.

On space standards it has been said you can’t use A Block it’s not fit for purpose, but the Care Quality Commission says it is and the Trust’s own survey report sets out that it can be modernised to the highest standards. It has come to light that it would cost half as much to refurbish A Block than to provide new ward provision elsewhere. Finally the all crucial standards of care are not as they should be – both length of stay and bed occupancy exceeds national targets creating yet more need for more beds.

To go ahead with a plan that reduces the capacity of our Mental Health services using such flawed evidence is both alarming and worrying. It becomes more so when you realise there has been little dialogue with service users and what dialogue has taken place is flawed. All this points to a Health Service with little if any transparency and at best an arms length concept of accountability.

A Block is to close and a plan for the future of our local service is to be implemented that shows every sign of falling short in providing the levels of care that are desperately needed. I will be supporting the campaign pressing for a transparent and accountable Health Service that meets the needs of Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

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