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Single Mental Health Unit Consultation Launched by Trust
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THE South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has launched a consultation on the location of a single mental health inpatient unit.

This consultation follows an earlier decision in 2010 and a previous public consultation on a future model for acute in-patient mental health services.  In June 2010 the Trust had proposed that a single “centre of excellence” should be created from the existing three units at the Ulster, Lagan Valley and Downe Hospitals.  The recommendation accepted, at that time, was for a single site, located at Lagan Valley Hospital.

Councillor Colin McGrath has expressed his concern about the future of Finneston House.

Following the 2010 consultation, there was an overall acceptance of the proposed “Centre of Excellence” model on one site, however some concerns were raised regarding the proposal to locate the unit on the Lagan Valley Hospital site in Lisburn.   A number of recommendations were made to Trust Board in November 2010 which included:

*  The relocation of acute inpatient care from the three current locations (Downe, Lagan Valley and Ulster Hospitals) to a single facility.

*  Continuing to provide Psychiatric Intensive Care (PICU) and Low Secure Services; and relocate these services to more appropriate environments.

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McGrath Unhappy at Trust Relocation of Acute Mental Health Services

Downpatrick SDLP  local health spokesperson, Councillor Colin McGrath, has said he is unhappy that the South East Area Trust is relocating further services from Downpatrick to the Ulster Hospital site in Dundonald.

Councillor McGrath said:  “Once again we start a consultation and once again we can see the outcome – the removal of services from Downpatrick and the continued centralisation of services to Dundonald.

“It is grossly unfair that the Trust has waited until Torr Bank School decanted off their present school site adjacent to the Ulster hospital for this consultation to take place – rendering (via their own consultation) this available site to be the most preferable.

“I would contend that those with serious mental health issues do not wish to be located on an acute and busy hospital site as many will view their condition as needing a different approach and one that is not traditionally a medical one – they need the time and space to deal with the condition they have – lumping them in with the rest a busy hospital site appears to suit the ‘suits’ more that the patients.

“I would urge people to make their views known to the Trust but fully understand any hesitancy shown by locals as we always know what the South East Trust does – it removes the services, relocates the jobs and lowers the profile of our area off to Dundonald.”

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Alliance Party Councillor Patrick Clarke has said he is very concerned that the South East Area Trust is considering relocating further frontline health care services from the Downe Hospital and Downpatrick area to the Ulster Hospital site in Dundonald.
Councillor Clarke said:  “It is disappointing that we start a consultation regarding the location of a single mental health inpatient unit when quite clearly the preferred option is the removal of front line mental health care services from Downpatrick and transfer to the Belfast area at the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald.”
“The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust clearly prefer to centralise to the Belfast area as the location for their new centre of excellence for acute in-patient mental health services due to the Ulster Hospital being a major acute hospital.”
“Evidently the Trust’s preferred option is to provide a single inpatient mental health unit on the Ulster Hospital site, stating that it will enhance the range and quality of services and better meet the individual needs of people with a mental illness. I find this to be grossly offensive to the professional mental health care services that have been provided by dedicated medical professionals in Downpatrick for many years serving the needs of people with mental health illnesses.”

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A South Eastern HSC Trust spokesperson added: “In March 2012 it became apparent that the former Tor Bank School site adjacent to the Ulster Hospital, (which had previously been unavailable), would become available for sale in Autumn 2012.  The DHSSPS advised the Trust that this site should now be included as an option within a revised business case.  No work has started at the Lagan Valley site at this stage.

“The clinical team are of the view that the Ulster Hospital would be the best site clinically and strategically as the unit would be co-located with the major acute hospital.  A final business case was submitted to the Trust Board for their consideration and approved in November 2012.

“This opens the way for a fresh consultation on the location of a Centre of Excellence on the Ulster Hospital site.  The Trust’s preferred option is now to provide a single inpatient mental health unit on the Ulster Hospital site, which will enhance the range and quality of services and better meet the individual needs of people with a mental illness.

“The Trust has embarked on a process of formal consultation with service users, interested parties and the general public to ensure that this document is consulted upon as widely and openly as possible.  The consultation process commenced on 16 January 2013 and will run until 17 April 2013.”

Comments made during this consultation process will be considered carefully and feedback will be provided.

The Trust will also be hosting public meetings in Lisburn, Dundonald and Downpatrick as follows:

VenueDate/Time
Trinity Methodist Church & Community Venue, Lisburn12 February 2013 at2.00pm – 4.00pm
Recreation Hall, Trust HQ, Ulster Hospital13 February 2013 at7.00pm – 9.00pm
Great Hall, Downshire26 February 2013 at7.00pm – 9.00pm

A copy of the proposal and information on the consultation process is available on the SouthEastern Health and Socialk Care Trust’s website:

www.setrust.hscni.net