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Consultation launched regarding acute mental health services in Westminster

Local health services are asking residents of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea for their views on the future shape of services for adults aged 18 to 65 with acute mental health needs. Their public consultation has been launched on 24th October 2023 and will run for 14 weeks, concluding at the end of January 2024. Health chiefs say the feedback from local people and the context of the wider mental health strategy for North West London will then inform decisions on how services will operate in future.

Whilst this is not a consultation that is being organised or run by Westminster City Council, we would urge everyone with an interest in mental health services in our city to engage with the consultation and share their views. The consultation also includes a number of options relating to the future of the Gordon Hospital in Pimlico.

You can view the details of the proposals and how to share your views by visiting the North West London Integrated Care System dedicated web pages.

Cllr Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and the Voluntary Sector said:

Community mental health services are crucial, but they shouldn’t be funded at the expense of acute hospital beds. If we lose these valuable beds, we will never get them back.

Westminster has some of the highest health inequalities in the country. Having no acute mental health provision in the south of the borough has put pressure on other parts of the system. Facilities at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, for example, are hosting several mental health patients for extended periods and in some cases for days at a time, for up to twenty four hours in beds that are needed for patients who are physically ill.

The closure of the Gordon Hospital has had a clear impact on communities least able to access alternative support and will continue to do so. The best way to care for mental health patients is in facilities closer to their homes where they are nearer to their support networks, which is crucial to their recovery.

At a Full Council meeting held on 20th September, all councillors backed a motion setting out concerns regarding the loss of acute mental health beds and the consequences this has had for residents and staff in the city.

Councillors from both political groups called on the NHS to reopen acute mental health beds in South Westminster to ensure that the needs of local people are met. They highlighted the importance of community mental health services but were clear that they shouldn’t be funded at the expense of acute hospital beds, and that both types of services are needed to support people with different needs and at different stages of their patient journey.

Councillors have also heard from independent health expert, Professor Jill Manthorpe, who is currently investigating the impact of Gordon Hospital closure. You can read her initial presentation to councillors.

Also, a new Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee between Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been established to scrutinise the proposed substantial variation in development and services in relation to the Gordon Hospital, St Charles Mental Health Unit and Mental Health Services. Find out more details of that committee.

Published: 24 October 2023