Our response to plans to transform mental health services in Camden and Islington

The plans include moving inpatient facilities from St Pancras Hospital to a site behind the Whittington Hospital, and building two new community mental health hubs, one in Camden and one in Islington.

We strongly welcome the plans to provide patients with a purpose-built hospital with better en-suite facilities and more outdoor space. We hope that feedback from staff, local residents, and patients will inform the design of these new facilities and the culture of the organisation.

However, we believe a truly therapeutic environment is about more than just the physical space. Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust will need to do more to reduce lengths of stay by improving the community and preventative offer. We want to see the Trust acknowledge health inequalities within current provision and seize the opportunity to tackle this.

Responding specifically to the plan to develop two new community hubs:

When considering the community hubs we need to clarify how ambitious the Trust’s vision is for changes to mental health services. We would welcome the most preventative approach possible. We feel it is important for the Trust to strengthen links with a wider range of community partners to help inform its thinking on this.

It is frustrating that these proposals to increase much needed community-based services are being made at the same time as councils face increasing reductions to their own preventative work, with mental health day services facing drastic cuts to their budgets.

Community services as an umbrella term covers a broad range of services. We'd like to emphasise the importance of making these accessible to as wide a range of residents with as wide a range of needs as possible, rather than focusing on clinical services.

Emma Whitby, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Islington said:

'The strength of many of the services that support people's mental health is that they are not seen as clinical. Moving services of this nature into community hubs is not without risk. We are concerned that the hubs will be viewed as part of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, rather than as part of the community. Residents consistently tell Healthwatch that one of the biggest barriers to accessing mental health services is the stigma of attending. Whilst it is helpful for some people to have integrated services in a single place, for others that will not be necessary and can medicalise their engagement at an early stage. Others may decide not to engage with them at all.'

We know that the Trust works hard to include patients and carers in its planning. We would welcome the Trust extending this work to engage with a wider community. This would allow the Trust to increase its knowledge about what the local community needs from the hubs and from services within the hospital.

Our response in full

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