[F]ollowing discussions with partner organisations, the Chief Executive of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is reassuring the community over the planned closure of the Kentmere Unit at Westmorland General Hospital.
Claire Molloy, Chief Executive said: “We recognise that we have not got our messages right on this occasion and we are seeking to reassure the community of the status of our plans following the announcement already made. We can therefore confirm that although the Kentmere unit will close and alternatives will be introduced, that this change is temporary and we are reviewing the timescales we set out last week along with our partners.
“We are making this temporary change with regret and it is a decision that has not been taken lightly. We want to be absolutely clear that this decision has had to be taken entirely because of the restrictions with the environment on the Kentmere site. The safety of our patients is our primary concern and we would be failing our patients if we continued to tolerate the risk to the quality and safety of care the environment places on us. The quality of care provided by the staff on this unit is second to none and was recently praised by the Care Quality Commission.
“We know that this has caused great anxiety and concern among patients, staff and partners and we are genuinely sorry for the confusion or worry people have felt. We now look forward to working with partners in consulting the public on long term plans for the county’s inpatient mental health beds which is planned to take place later in 2016.”
Dr Andy Brittlebank, Medical Director said: “As a Trust our priority is the safety of our patients and providing high quality services as close to their homes as possible. This temporary change will allow us to re-deploy some of our existing staff to provide greater support in community settings. This additional resource will mean that some patients who previously would have had to go into hospital to receive their care will now be able to stay at home, supported by our expert and caring staff where it is safe to do so.”
Tim Farron MP said: “It is welcome news that health bosses are looking again at this decision, but we need more detail before this fight is over. The Trust still plans to close this ward, and the reality is that it is very unlikely that it will reopen once it is closed.
“I am calling for the ward to remain open at least until after a consultation has taken place. Local residents in the South Lakes who need mental health services rely on this unit, and its closure would mean that access to those services would be affected.
“My thanks go to all who have signed the petition, and helped to put pressure on the Trust to keep the ward open.”
To sign the petition to keep mental health services in South Lakeland, go to: www.timfarron.co.uk/kentmereward