The following open letter has been sent by Wyre Forest Constituency Labour Party to the press and these specific recipients:

Care Quality Commission
Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector Of Hospitals CQC

Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust
Sarah Dugan, Chief Executive

NHS Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group
Simon Rumley
Chair & Clinical Lead
NHS Wyre Forest CCG

I am writing on behalf of Wyre Forest Labour Party about the closure of Harvington Ward at Kidderminster Hospital effective 7th November because we believe this decision should be reversed.

Once again, it appears that Kidderminster Hospital and its valuable services are being singled out for closure whilst other Hospitals fare much better. This time, it is our view that it will leave Wyre Forest dangerously short of adequate mental health provision. It will either isolate those people in need of these services, or act as a barrier to access. This, we believe, will place additional strains on both the patients in need of such services and their families who support them, and all at a critical time. We are also concerned for what this may mean for our wider community and its safety, and the safety of mentally ill patients if people cannot access appropriate local services when needed, or if they are seen to be too remote.

These concerns are not new and were aired by local people during the consultation process in objection to any closure, and have clearly been ignored by the NHS as it seeks to balance its books under the guise of service improvements by claiming more care in the community will take place. Incidentally, a mental health community care system that nationally is not in good shape, or in receipt of adequate funding – so why should we be assured Worcestershire can buck this trend? Any short term quick fix provision is by no means an equal to quality inpatient care when it is needed and where it is needed – locally provided.

Nationally, it is clear that there are bed shortages for such mental health inpatient care with up to 75% of Trusts sending their patients to other areas, with a 236% rise in such practices since 2011. It now seems Worcestershire is set to follow this trend and so potentially add to the national problem, especially because we are not assured they will have adequate local provision with the closure of Harvington Ward. Nevertheless, remote inpatient care for mental health conditions is a practice that is recorded to lead to increased suicide risk and we are deeply troubled by this.

We simply do not accept that the same clinical centralising mindset can be applied to mental health conditions as is clearly currently prevalent in the NHS for physical ailments. Mental Health services are already under-resourced and this closure will do nothing to rectify this problem leaving services dangerously inadequate both locally and County wide.

From the information that has come our way via concerned staff, they too have serious misgivings about this closure and how it may impact services fearing it will leave the community vulnerable. Unfortunately, we are also aware that many staff are too scared to speak out for fear of what it may mean for their own jobs and career.

We urge you to seek to reverse this closure on clinical safety grounds, and so that services reflect the needs and wishes of local people.

Yours sincerely,
Stephen Brown
Wyre Forest Labour Party

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