Proposal to close mental health services, at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, and cut beds across south west London

Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton

Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton

First published in News
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Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Chief reporter

Health bosses want to close mental health services at Queen Mary’s Hospital, which treats 500 patients a year, and reduce inpatient beds across south-west London by 10 per cent.

A review, set to transform mental health services across the region, proposes to axe services at the Roehampton hospital and centralise the region’s mental health services at Springfield University Hospital, Tooting, and Tolworth Hospital, Kingston. 

Wandsworth Guardian:

Springfield Hospital in Tooting 

Health bosses predict that by investing in these two hospitals, and closing services at Queen Mary’s, they could save £25.87m in 50 years, than if they maintained the current three hospitals.

This is despite recent warnings from the British Medical Association (BMA) that mental health patients were being put at risk by cuts. Earlier this year six mental health organisations also warned that NHS mental health cuts were putting lives at risk.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Tolworth Hospital in Kingston 

A draft report by the South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) proposes new facilities be built in Springfield and Tolworth serving people from Kingston, Merton, Sutton, Richmond and Wandsworth.

Investment in these two hospitals, they estimate, would cost up to £160m which would come from selling NHS land.

Another, less favoured proposal, is to maintain services at the three hospitals at an investment of £140m. However, this option would be much more expensive for the NHS in the long-run - £42.17m more than the preferred option over 50 years.

The report reveals a desire to reduce the number of mental health inpatient beds in the region by about 10 per cent, from 2018 onwards, by encouraging more people to be treated in the community and at home.

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Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, said proposed cuts let local patients down once again. He said: "Wandsworth residents make up half of all those admitted to Queen Mary’s Hospital, yet these proposals mean they may have to travel to Kingston to receive treatment which I worry they may be unwilling to do.

"Springfield does a great job of serving our community - yet mental health services are already at breaking point. Not only will this move cost more in the long run, due to more local residents reaching crisis point and been admitted to A&E, and some unwilling to travel to Kingston, but it sends the wrong message about the lack of prioritisation of services for people with mental illness."

At the BMA’s annual meeting last month, doctors raised concerns about the loss of 1,700 acute mental health beds across the UK since 2011 - a 9 per cent reduction in available beds.

The meeting heard the situation was so bad that doctors were being forced to discharge patients quickly in order to free up beds. Meanwhile, another mental health trust spent £345,000 to put patients in bed and breakfasts.


Queen Mary’s Hospital mental health admissions 2013-14: 500 admissions 2013-14. Of these, admissions from the five local boroughs were:

  • Kingston 27
  • Merton 16
  • Richmond 147
  • Sutton 19
  • Wandsworth 243

Queen Mary’s Hospital currently has three adult mental health wards. A spokesman for the SWLSTG, which runs the mental health services, said the acute wards, if vacated, would return to use by acute services and not remain empty.

Gerry Horner from the Keep our NHS Public south-west London group said: "Wandsworth is recognised as an area of high need for mental health services. The younger age-groups and transitory section of the population lead to more people presenting to services as emergencies. These factors appear to be being ignored.

"The further from home in-patients and their families have to travel the more inconvenient the service will be for them."

When asked if people would lose their jobs, a spokesman for SWLSTG said it was "not about jobs" but the preferred option did the most to guarantee frontline posts for the future. The trust would not specify numbers.

On top of all the changes the SWLSTG also has to make savings of £32m by 2020.

Dr Emma Whicher, medical director of the SWLSTG, said: "Mental health services in south-west London have already changed to help more people live at home with the right support and avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital. Service users and carers tell us this is what they want.

"There is now agreement that there should be parity of esteem between mental health and physical health needs and we have an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest up to £160m into developing local mental health inpatient facilities to make them the best in the country.

"We are working with our colleagues at NHS England and local clinical commissioning groups to finalise the details of the consultation, in which we want to hear from local people and organisations about the range of services to be provided from each hospital, and also about the future use of Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, for mental health inpatient services."

A decision on when to go to consultation will go to the board in the next month.

Comments (9)

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12:15pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Georgia Lewis says...

Will other services really be able to cope with the 500 additional patients? Has there been a risk assessment done to determine how forcing vulnerable patients to change their routine and, in many cases, travel further will impact on them? The trust refuses to give numbers about job losses and says it's not about jobs - this sort of obfuscation and lack of transparency is unacceptable for all concerned.
Will other services really be able to cope with the 500 additional patients? Has there been a risk assessment done to determine how forcing vulnerable patients to change their routine and, in many cases, travel further will impact on them? The trust refuses to give numbers about job losses and says it's not about jobs - this sort of obfuscation and lack of transparency is unacceptable for all concerned. Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 12

12:34pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Forty_two says...

this is precisely the same narrative which is being used to close and "downgrade" services across the country at the moment, especially in London.

It's time people woke up to this, and started asking questions of the people making these terrible decisions.
this is precisely the same narrative which is being used to close and "downgrade" services across the country at the moment, especially in London. It's time people woke up to this, and started asking questions of the people making these terrible decisions. Forty_two
  • Score: 6

12:53pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Bonnie Craven says...

At a time when mental health issues are on thr rise, this "cost cutting" will be enormously costly to the people who are unwell and to the local communities across south west London.
At a time when mental health issues are on thr rise, this "cost cutting" will be enormously costly to the people who are unwell and to the local communities across south west London. Bonnie Craven
  • Score: 8

2:13pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Sameer the First says...

This is interesting from Andy Burnham on what he calls "whole person care". http://www.labour.or
g.uk/andy-burnhams-s
peech-to-the-kings-f
und-whole-person-car
e,2013-01-24

I think the health service of the future will not have the same preoccupation with bed numbers, because I think patients won't be treated in hospitals to the extent they are now. All three main parties seem to agree that big changes are needed. As Burnham puts it: "There is a political consensus that the status quo is the worst of all possible worlds and it needs to change."
This is interesting from Andy Burnham on what he calls "whole person care". http://www.labour.or g.uk/andy-burnhams-s peech-to-the-kings-f und-whole-person-car e,2013-01-24 I think the health service of the future will not have the same preoccupation with bed numbers, because I think patients won't be treated in hospitals to the extent they are now. All three main parties seem to agree that big changes are needed. As Burnham puts it: "There is a political consensus that the status quo is the worst of all possible worlds and it needs to change." Sameer the First
  • Score: 3

3:52pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Niki R says...

A decision that reminds me of 'Care in the Community' where vulnerable, ill people were turfed out to fend for themselves. Without care management and monitored medication, the worst off will suffer. But them mental health has always been the 'Cinderella' of the NHS, first to be cut and last to be counted.
A decision that reminds me of 'Care in the Community' where vulnerable, ill people were turfed out to fend for themselves. Without care management and monitored medication, the worst off will suffer. But them mental health has always been the 'Cinderella' of the NHS, first to be cut and last to be counted. Niki R
  • Score: 7

5:02pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Pippa Maslin says...

The population is growing. We have more elderly people than ever. But the government see fit to keep tightening the purse strings when it comes to health provision. Disgusting.
The population is growing. We have more elderly people than ever. But the government see fit to keep tightening the purse strings when it comes to health provision. Disgusting. Pippa Maslin
  • Score: 2

2:12pm Sat 2 Aug 14

From beer to uncertainty says...

Psychiatric services are mainly appalling because of the calibre of medical and nursing staff in this specialty.
The profession now appears to be overrun with clueless staff-grade clinicians - disallusioned because recent changes mean they have no prospect of advancement.
It did always seem that psychiatry was the resort for medics who couldn't cope or people who had purchased their qualifications overseas and wanted to stay away from clinically savvy medics who might get suspicious.
Psychiatric services are mainly appalling because of the calibre of medical and nursing staff in this specialty. The profession now appears to be overrun with clueless staff-grade clinicians - disallusioned because recent changes mean they have no prospect of advancement. It did always seem that psychiatry was the resort for medics who couldn't cope or people who had purchased their qualifications overseas and wanted to stay away from clinically savvy medics who might get suspicious. From beer to uncertainty
  • Score: -1

1:00pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Imigrante says...

Rather than cost cutting, reducing beds and closing facilities. They should concentrate also on hiring more frontline staff and reducing the numbers of "Managers" working in NHS......
Rather than cost cutting, reducing beds and closing facilities. They should concentrate also on hiring more frontline staff and reducing the numbers of "Managers" working in NHS...... Imigrante
  • Score: -1

4:12am Sun 17 Aug 14

Dr Martin says...

Unfortunately all NHS mental health services throughout the country have suffered, since having lots of extra cash thrown at it by Labour prior to the global financial crisis, then had its (NHS) budget cut by Labour and the Tories have since frozen the amount The NHS gets.
So all the wage increases (however small) all those increases in charges for medication/bed linen food/heating lighting, building costs etc etc which increase yearly have all had to come out of the same amount of money, which means the amount of hospital beds and frontline staff and become less and less.
Just a note regarding the previous post if you employ more frontline staff (qualified nurses which start at Band 5 salary starting at £21k) you need more Band 6’s (£25k) and the more band 6’s to supervise them you need more band 7’s (£30k) to supervise those nurses. Mental health services are failing because it hasn't been given enough money to do the job properly, not because it has too many managers.
Unfortunately all NHS mental health services throughout the country have suffered, since having lots of extra cash thrown at it by Labour prior to the global financial crisis, then had its (NHS) budget cut by Labour and the Tories have since frozen the amount The NHS gets. So all the wage increases (however small) all those increases in charges for medication/bed linen food/heating lighting, building costs etc etc which increase yearly have all had to come out of the same amount of money, which means the amount of hospital beds and frontline staff and become less and less. Just a note regarding the previous post if you employ more frontline staff (qualified nurses which start at Band 5 salary starting at £21k) you need more Band 6’s (£25k) and the more band 6’s to supervise them you need more band 7’s (£30k) to supervise those nurses. Mental health services are failing because it hasn't been given enough money to do the job properly, not because it has too many managers. Dr Martin
  • Score: 0

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