Psychiatric unit closure under the spotlight

ON THE MOVE? ... Bede Unit at South Tyneside District Hospital.
ON THE MOVE? ... Bede Unit at South Tyneside District Hospital.

PLANS to close a secure psychiatric unit in South Tyneside will come under scrutiny next week.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust plans to shut down the five-bed Bede unit in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital, South Shields.

The intention is to move the service to the Dene unit at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Sunderland.

The main reason for the change is to improve clinical quality, according to a report to be presented to members of a South Tyneside Council’s overview and scrutiny committee next week.

In his report, Ron Weddle, directorate manager with the Foundation Trust, says: “Bede 3 is a secure ward, meaning it is locked, and entry and exit of patients is controlled.

It receives patients who cannot be managed on the acute inpatient wards due to the level of risk the patient - normally detained under the Mental Health Act - poses to themselves and others.”

Proposals also include the transfer of the Eighton unit in Gateshead to Sunderland.

The report adds: “Currently the Trust has three small secure units South of Tyne. The proposal is to consolidate this to create one unit at the Cherry Knowle site.

This new service will benefit from additional staffing levels, access to an increased range of clinical support and an improved environment.

Overall bed capacity will reduce from 18 to 14. This will be supplemented by the development of Extra Care facilities on the acute wards within Gateshead and South Tyneside.”

“For the small number of service users requiring this type of intervention within South Tyneside and Gateshead, this proposal will require accessing a service out of the locality.

“However, service improvements within the care pathway will enable a reduction in the duration of their stay. These transfers are managed in a safe, efficient and effective manner.

“This proposal will also potentially require some carers to travel out of locality but recent experiences have shown that few carers visiting our services rely on public transport.

“The Trust does not anticipate making any compulsory redundancies as a result of this proposal.”

The overview and scrutiny committee is to meet on Tuesday, April 24, from 10am in the committee suite at South Shields Town hall.