Plans to remove all acute inpatient mental health beds from Medway Maritime Hospital have been referred to the health secretary by local councillors.
A spokeswoman for Medway Council told LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal its health and adult scrutiny committee had referred the plans because it was concerned they would “not be in the best interests of patients” and would mean there was no local provision of mental health beds.
But Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group expressed “disappointment” at the move and warned it would have a “direct impact” on patient care.
Commissioners and the trust want to close inpatient facilities at the hospital and remove 35 mental health beds because of concerns about the poor quality environment at Medway Hospitals A Block.
The trust’s medical director, Karen White, said: “The decision will have a direct impact on patient care. Any delay in moving patients out of A Block means clinical care could be compromised.
“The proposal presented outlined what we consider clinically to be the best way forward.”
Councillors decided unanimously to refer the issue to Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday night.
If the closure goes ahead it will leave Medway with no acute mental health beds and local councillors have argued some local provision should remain.
Overall the proposals would lead to the number of beds rising from 160 to 174, but concentrated on sites in Dartford, Canterbury and Maidstone.
The referral to Jeremy Hunt follows a public consultation last year on the way services should be provided across Kent and Medway, which included the concerns about A Block and the need to relocate beds.
Ian Ayres, chief officer for West Kent CCG, which commissions the mental health trust on behalf of eight local CCGs, said: “We are very disappointed by the decision and extremely concerned about the conditions on A Block in Medway Hospital.
“This was something that all stakeholders agreed upon unanimously during the consultation. We need to move patients to better accommodation as soon as possible.
“The Kent and Medway NHS and Social Partnership Trust are confident that these proposals could have been achieved safely and successfully in less than 12 months.”
Information supplied to HSJ