Carers have branded news Queen Mary’s Hospital will no longer treat people with mental health problems as “disgusting”.
Despite the Sidcup hospital being appointed a “centre of excellence for inpatient mental health services” last year, patients will instead be treated at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRU) in Farnborough or Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich.
Carers say this will triple their journey time in some cases including some who are extremely elderly and find it difficult to travel.
Last year London Healthcare Trust special administrator Matthew Kershaw recommended Queen Mary’s provide inpatient mental health services for people across Bexley and Bromley and detailed this vision in his final report.
However Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, which covers Queen Mary’s, told News Shopper it is developing the site as centre of excellence for older people instead.
Carer Ray Harlen, 54, of Austen Road, Erith, said: “There won’t be a single inpatient facility for emergency mental health provision in the borough.
“Some people are in their 90s and they have been caring for their children their whole lives.
“It won’t be possible for all these elderly people to travel all this way so they just won’t be able to visit them.
“It is very difficult when you can’t see the person you care for.”
Anne Gardner, 73, of Abbots Walk, cares for her son who lives in Foots Cray, Sidcup.
She told News Shopper: “It will endanger people’s lives and will lead to more people attempting suicide. It’s disgusting.
“It will put pressure on the patients, the carers and the police because they will have to deal with more incidents.
“And if we have other responsibilities such as kids, it makes the difference of someone looking after them for an hour or for three hours.
“They said Queen Mary’s would have specialist services for people with mental health problems but now they are saying it’s for older people.”
Helen Wilkinson, 53, of Manor Road, cares for her husband who is bipolar.
She told News Shopper: “It will be too far for us to visit our relatives. What happens if they are ill and they are moved miles away from where you live?
“Many people might have to travel to the other side of Farnborough.
“They are making it harder and harder for the carers.”
Matthew Kershaw’s recommendation last year was applauded by Bexley Health and Wellbeing Strategy board and Bexley Council - Council Leader Teresa O’Neill even said she was “delighted” by the news.
An Oxleas spokeswoman said: “Since the closure of A&E at Queen Mary’s, adult mental health patients from Bexley go to the A&E at either Queen Elizabeth Hospital or Princess Royal University Hospital for emergency care.
“This can make the patients’ pathway less smooth for Bexley residents, who then have to transfer to the Woodlands Unit.
“Because of this, we are proposing to move adult acute mental health beds onto two sites, Oxleas House at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Green Parks House at the PRU, so that all our patients can access the services they need as quickly as possible.
"Due to the refurbishment that is required, the proposed moves are unlikely to happen before September 2015, so there is plenty of time for us to let patients, carers and others know more about the changes and we will ensure that information is readily available.
“All of our older adult dementia inpatient beds moved to the Woodlands in Queen Mary’s in 2012, and we are developing a centre of excellence across Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich for the care of older people.”
What South London Healthcare Trust special administrator Matthew Kershaw said last year:
“An area of Queen Mary’s Hospital will be developed to provide mental health inpatient services for the population of Bromley and Bexley.
“This will provide an opportunity to create an innovative and effective service, located at the border of Bexley and Bromley that could meet high standards of care for mental health patients.
“Under the Trust’s leadership, Queen Mary’s will have a sustainable future, providing the services commissioners have identified as being required for the local population and creating a centre of excellence for inpatient mental health services across Bexley and Bromley.”