Disappointment at decision to move mental health services to Reading

Theresa May has expressed her disappointment at a decision to move mental health inpatient services from Charles Ward at St Marks Hospital to Prospect Park Hospital in Reading. NHS Berkshire approved the decision at a meeting on 24th January, following further consultation work that had been commissioned last year in response to widespread concern about the plan. Although the move will cause concern for Maidenhead and east Berkshire residents, the conditions attached to the decision include the improvement of transport services for relatives and carers, and increased investment in community mental health services.

The decision follows a public consultation held in 2010 which looked at several options for the future of mental health inpatient services in east Berkshire, including moving all services to Prospect Park. Theresa joined local residents in expressing concern about this plan, which would leave Maidenhead and the surrounding area without mental health inpatient services. Theresa particularly expressed concern about relatives of elderly patients being asked to travel to Reading, and the possibility of patients feeling ‘abandoned’ without regular visits from family members.

In opposing the plan, Theresa emphasised that were it to go ahead it would need to be accompanied by assurances on transportation for those needing to get to Reading, particularly more vulnerable elderly residents. NHS Berkshire has confirmed that their decision includes transport support for relatives and carers, and that £100,000 will be provided annually for this.

Commenting, Theresa said: “I am disappointed that these important services will no longer be available in Maidenhead. It is important that everyone who needs support is able to access it, either in their home or in hospital. I will therefore be monitoring the situation very closely to ensure that the conditions attached to this decision are not forgotten – particularly that support is available for relatives and carers who will need to make the longer journey to Reading, and that increased investment in community mental health services is provided. I will also be pressing the PCT on what services will be available at St Marks.”

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