We believe that mental health services are vital to a healthy community and that there should be a mix of community and acute mental health based local provision.
Kensington and Chelsea is also in a unique position as residents in North Kensington have had to deal with the tragedy of Grenfell and the challenges this has created.
The NHS is consulting on three options for the future of acute mental health provision in the area:
- Option 1 would see a return to the position before the pandemic, with the Gordon Hospital in South Westminster reopening, bringing 51 acute beds back into service
- Option 2 would result in a loss of services in Kensington and Chelsea as the Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service (MHCAS) would close in St Charles Hospital, North Kensington, and the money saved would go towards 13 acute beds in one ward in the Gordon Hospital
- Option 3 would again see the loss of the MHCAS in the borough, but it would be moved to the Gordon Hospital and four beds for overnight patients would be available there
The Council’s view
Councillor Josh Rendall, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health in Kensington and Chelsea said: “Unfortunately, the NHS is not consulting on what we believe is the best option, to maintain all services currently at St Charles and open acute mental health beds in South Westminster. This would allow residents in both boroughs to be treated near their support networks and in familiar surroundings.”
We are faced with deciding which course of action has the least impact on our residents and on this basis, we believe that Option 1 gives residents of Kensington and Chelsea the best outcome. This option from the NHS would keep the acute beds at St Charles and the MHCAS service, which has been there for three years and acts like an A&E service for mental health, plus reopen the Gordon Hospital with its 51 beds. The NHS says it would have to look at reducing some other community services as a result, but from what we have seen, this does not appear to be services in Kensington and Chelsea.
In 2020 the NHS decided to close the Gordon Hospital in Westminster, meaning the loss of 51 acute mental health beds. This has led to a significant increase in pressure on St Charles Hospital in North Kensington, with nearly half the beds there being used by Westminster residents and Kensington and Chelsea residents being forced out of borough, sometimes as far as Milton Keynes. This doesn’t help those who need support as they have no family or friends around when they most need them.
Have your say
We encourage all residents to have their say on this consultation. Mental health provision can be used by anyone, or a family member or friend, so it’s vital to give the NHS your views on services you may need now or in the future.
This consultation comes at a time when the police have decided not to deal with people with acute mental health issues anymore, putting more pressure on local government in the first instance and then impacting local NHS services. This is not the time to be losing these