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Plans to move mental health services out of Tottenham hospital slammed

15:00 15 March 2012

Paulette Case-Robinson at St Ann's Hospital. Pic: Tony Gay.

Paulette Case-Robinson at St Ann's Hospital. Pic: Tony Gay.

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Plans to close down vital mental health services in Haringey and relocate them several miles away in Enfield have been slammed as a return to the age of “asylums”, threatening to leave patients “isolated”.

The proposals to shut down all three in-patient wards at St Ann’s Hospital in St Ann’s Road, South Tottenham, and “consolidate” them with services on offer at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield were set in motion on Tuesday.

This week the proposals by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust (BEHMHT) were put under the microscope by service users in Haringey, medical practitioners, representatives from Haringey Council, and the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT).

Paulette Case-Robinson, a service user who lives near the hospital, said: “It seems as though the [NHS trust] is trying to recreate the asylums when they should be looking after people in their own communities.

“Under the plans, Haringey people would be isolated while they are being treated in hospital and then they have to come back to a community that they’ve been isolated from to try and fit in again.”

The review follows the endorsement of the plans last month by the Department of Health, which involved consultation with Tottenham MP David Lammy and BEHMHT chief executive Maria Kane, among others.

The relocation of the in-patient wards at St Ann’s is part of a wider project planned for the site, which the Journal understands includes a particular desire for housing.

A BEHMHT spokesman said the trust “would like to see a mixed-use development” on the site, which replaces “outdated buildings with new purpose-built health facilities”.

He added: “The trust is working closely with the council’s planning department to ensure any potential redevelopment benefits the community.”

If the proposals get the the go-ahead in the coming weeks by Dr Paul Winterbottom, who is leading the NCAT review, they will go on to a formal consultation before reaching the council’s planning committee.

Discussions about the regeneration of St Ann’s have been ongoing for years, but these latest developments signal the first steps towards redevelopment on the site.

In addition to the three in-patient wards, which have 45 beds, the hospital also runs an eating disorders unit, a 24-hour walk-in centre for those in crisis and is the base for the Home Treatment Team.

All of these services would be lost at St Ann’s should the plans be approved, ceasing all acute psychiatric in-patient care at the hospital.

But the BEHMHT spokesman insisted “talks are in their infancy”, adding: “There are convincing arguments for and against the move and our focus is on what is best for patients.”

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