‘Town can’t afford loss of mental health care’

MENTAL HEALTH FEARS ... Jean Costello at the Bede Wing.
MENTAL HEALTH FEARS ... Jean Costello at the Bede Wing.

A SOUTH Tyneside woman who won an apology from mental health bosses over their care for her son, fears plans to move specialist services away from the borough may only ‘shift the problem’.

The future of the Bede Wing mental health unit in South Shields and ward 18 at South Tyneside District Hospital will be considered in a wide-ranging health review, with options including a transfer of mental health services to the currently under-construction Hopewood Park mental health hospital in Ryhope, Sunderland.

Jean Costello, whose son Stephen Heslop took his own life just a day after passing a ‘self-harm’ test at the Bede Wing, says a radical overhaul of mental health care practices is needed.

Troubled 22-year-old Stephen stole a taxi and drove it off cliffs in Marsden to his death on Boxing Day 2007.

He had turned up at the Bede Wing the day previously, begging to be allowed to stay.

Coroner Terence Carney concluded at an inquest that Mr Heslop had killed himself while suffering from a psychotic illness, which was 
aggravated by alcohol, but was also contributed to by the failure to carry out the detailed plans put in place for him.

Ms Costello, of Auckland Avenue in South Shields, was determined to prove the assessment carried out on her son was wrong and, two years ago, received a letter from Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Mental Health Trust, admitting the assessment of Stephen at the Bede Wing was “not carried out in accordance with Trust policy”.

She is eager for further changes to be made, to prevent other families from going through the pain she has endured.

She said: “My worry is that it might just be shifting the problem.

“There has to be care plans put in place for mental health patients.

“I believe the Bede Wing should be pulled down and I would be happy to see it go but there still needs to be a form of service in South Shields.

“People will be left with having to make long trips to Sunderland to visit friends and relatives.”

She added: “It so important that the right decisions be made as too many lives are at risk.”

Twitter @shieldsgazchris