Fears for patients as health centre closes
THE planned closure of Durham House mental health centre – which employs 50 staff – will not affect care in the area, NHS bosses have promised.
Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust (KMPT) has admitted it plans to shut the facility in Canterbury Road, but claim that there will be no job losses, and nurses will visit patients in the community.
KMPT spokesman Adrian Lowther said: "We wish to make it clear that we are not looking at reducing mental health services in Herne Bay in any way whatsoever.
"Providing modern mental health care needs to take place in the community. The current base at Durham House is not fit for purpose, space cannot be utilised efficiently and it no longer provides the right accommodation needed for modern services.
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"With an increased focus on utilising technology to help mobile working and seeing people as close to home as possible, a base at Durham House will not be necessary in the future.
"We will continue to provide services in other localities in Herne Bay, something which we are already doing in the area. We need to operate efficiently and it is much better that we focus on rationalising our estate as opposed to staffing.
"We are not planning to reduce our workforce as a result of the move."
The decision comes after mental health experts raised concerns that "care in the community" needs improvement.
Cheryl and Chris Ives are the joint voluntary coordinators for charity Rethink's Canterbury and coastal carers' support group.
They told the Times that the number of people being admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act is going up – and that there are "gaps" in monitoring of care in the community.
Mrs Ives said: "The percentage of people being admitted under section is going up. That means the trust's teams must be very robust.
"Mental health carers are doing some of the most demanding work there is and they all deserve the utmost credit. But care in the community needs improvement and there can be gaps in monitoring when people are discharged from hospital."