Anger as Pilgrim Hospital’s mental health unit is moved

ROCHFORD MOVE: A patient from Holbeach under the care of Pilgrim Hospital's specialist Rochford Unit for mental health-related needs has described its potential closure as the 'Lincoln-ising' of the county's NHS. Photo by David Dawson.
  • Vulnerable patients moved out as LPFT tries to cope with demand

A retired dad-of-three from Holbeach under the care of specialist mental health staff based at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital has slammed plans to move them elsewhere.

The man, who asked not to be named, branded the planned “temporary closure” and relocation of the hospital’s Rochford Unit as the “Lincoln-ising” of mental health services in the county.

The Trust is currently working to free up the use of our existing specialist older adult mental health Rochford Unit as a temporary measure

Ian Jerams, LPFT director of operations

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) plans to move Rochford patients to hospitals in Lincoln and Grantham so the unit at Pilgrim can be used for “elderly, frail” waiting to be sent home.

But the man said: “It doesn’t make sense to me that LPFT aren’t able to send people home when they’re ready and I think the Rochford Unit moving is a cover-up to make more space at Pilgrim.

“The word ‘temporary’ usually means permanent when used in cases like this and there’s going to be a lot of lonely people who aren’t going to be able to see the faces of family and friends who they normally see.

“The unit was really helpful to me when, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was admitted to Pilgrim Hospital with depression after things just mounted up on me in May and June 2016.

“I’m still under its specialist care now and it’s one of the best hospital units I’ve been on.

“That’s what makes me cross that some pen-pushers have the bad idea to do something like this, Lincoln-ising the Rochford Unit and leaving people in Holbeach like me not being able to see my children and grandchildren.

“It’s also definitely going to affect people who don’t have the transport to see their families in Lincoln or Grantham and once this move is instigated, LPFT will say that it can’t afford to bring everything back again and change the Rochford Ward back to the way it used to be.”

Ian Jerams, LPFT director of operations, said: “As part of the county’s health and care community working together to manage increased demand on services during the winter, the Trust is currently working to free up the use of our existing specialist older adult mental health Rochford Unit as a temporary measure.

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“The unit could then be used to help discharge predominately elderly, frail people who have been assessed fit for discharge from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust sites around Lincolnshire but are awaiting short-term community social care support at home.

“We are currently in discussion with the Rochford Ward’s existing patients, their carers and families, to move to vacancies in comparable units in Grantham and Lincoln where it is deemed safe and appropriate to do so.

“The Rochford Unit will then be able to offer temporary accommodation and care to patients from ULHT hospitals until community services become available and patients can be discharged with appropriate support.

“LPFT’s decision to temporarily change a ward’s use is never taken lightly and has been something the Trust has done previously as part of local winter plans.

“This is a temporary measure until demands on local hospital services ease.”

But Coun Chris Brewis, South Holland’s representative on the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “Whilst I realise that staffing needs to be safe, the extra distances for people with serious problems, and their families and friends, will pose a very difficult problem.

“It will probably mean that more patients will opt to go ‘out of county’, to places like West Norfolk or Peterborough, at large cost to Lincolnshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups.

“At the very moment when attempts are being made to treat mental problems more promptly and effectively, this does not make it easy for people suffering with a variety of very difficult and troubling problems.”

Meanwhile, Simon Evans, Health Scrutiny Officer for Lincolnshire, said: “At the moment, the Health Scrutiny Committee has not considered this issue but we have asked for further details and clarification from both Pilgrim and Lincoln County Hospitals.”

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