Theresa presses for answers on support for mental health patients

Theresa May has pressed NHS Berkshire for more information on the support that will be available for mental health patients and their families, following a decision to close Charles Ward at St Marks Hospital and move services to Reading. In announcing the decision, NHS Berkshire agreed to provide more support for community mental health services and also to invest £100,000 in a transport scheme to help families and carers get to Reading. Theresa has now written to the Chief Executive to ask for more detail about when these will be available.

In her letter, Theresa asked the Chief Executive of NHS Berkshire, Charles Waddicor, to inform her when Charles Ward will close and to guarantee that increased community services and transport support will both be in place when this happens. She also requested more information about the funding that will be available to provide this, and how many people will be affected.

Commenting, Theresa said: “The decision to close Charles Ward will have caused great concern to many local residents. As part of the decision, NHS Berkshire have made explicit promises to provide more community mental health support when Charles Ward closes, and also to establish a transport scheme to help people who will otherwise find it difficult to get to Reading. There can be no backtracking on this, and both these things must be in place when Charles Ward closes. I am seeking a guarantee that this will be the case, and that sufficient funding is in place.”

Copy of letter sent to Charles Waddicor:

Dear Charles,

Mental Health Inpatient Services in East Berkshire

I was disappointed to hear of the decision reached on 24th January to close Charles Ward and move services to Reading.

You will be aware of my strong opposition to this and there is no need for me to go over the arguments again now. However, in helping me to assess the impact of this decision I would be very grateful if the PCT could provide responses to the following questions:

1) When do you anticipate that Charles Ward will close, and can you guarantee that increased community services and transport support will both be in place at this point?

2) What additional funding will be provided for community services?

3) How many people who might otherwise have accessed Charles Ward would you expect to make use of community services, and how many would you expect to access Prospect Park?

4) When will detailed proposals for transport support be brought forward?

5) Is the £100,000 for transport support being re-directed from other programmes, and if so which ones?

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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