Blow for patients as beds set to go at Eastbourne DGH

TWENTY inpatient psychiatric beds will close at Eastbourne DGH next year, despite concern from Eastbourne Borough Council.

The PCT says changes to mental health services were given the green light by East Sussex County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) last week.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the local primary care trust say the bed closures will be accompanied by improvements to care in the community.

They say they will provide more mental health professionals working alongside GPs in their surgeries to give advice and support, and to fast-track people to specialist mental health services.

They are also promising longer opening hours for community mental health services and improvements to support for people who are experiencing a crisis in their mental health with an aim to reducing the need for people to be admitted to hospital.

This comes after Eastbourne Borough Council called on the PCT to rethink its decision to close inpatient beds at Eastbourne DGH and raised serious concerns about the consequences of bed closures including the current 'inadequate' community care.

Speaking after the recent HOSC, Liz Walke, chair of the Save the DGH campaign, said, "We remain extremely concerned at these proposals which were not fully discussed at HOSC recently as it was mentioned by the chair, Councillor Sylvia Tidy, hat it was just an update so there was not to be debate. Is that a green light? I'm not sure.

"Even if this is the case, Eastbourne Borough Council definitely gave the red light voting unanimously opposing these cuts.

"Until we see adequate provision in the community for mental health patients and mental health organisations supporting these plans, the Save the DGH Campaign has no alternative than to oppose these bed closures."

Martin Packwood, mental health commissioning manager for the PCT, said, "The changes we are planning will enable even more people to stay well, as well as cope successfully with relapses, without needing to go into hospital.

"People who use mental health services say that they want to receive more treatment and care at home, and in the community if possible, rather than in hospital beds.

"Clinicians (doctors, nurses and other health professionals) also believe that providing more and better mental health services outside of hospital helps people to recover quicker and stay healthier.

"Community mental health services have benefited from significant investment in recent years and are continuing to develop."

The inpatient beds at Eastbourne DGH will close from April 2011.