Wednesday 10 October 2018

On the plans for Maple ward at Rochford Hospital

I have received several representations regarding proposals for Maple ward, and below is an example. I made made some minor changes to protect the identity of the author.

Dear Councillor Julian Ware-Lane,

I am writing to you to ask for your support in a matter I feel very passionately about.

Mental health nurses work at the local dementia assessment ward (Maple Ward) at Rochford Hospital. They nurse patients who are initially admitted to us under Section 2/3 of the mental health act, often due to being impossible to manage in the community. They provide assessment and treatment to patients who can no longer be cared for safely at home or in a care home, often due to their physical aggression.

Unfortunately, we have just been informed of the news that the ward is under consultation. With plans to close the existing ward at Rochford hospital. This would mean that the next nearest dementia assessment unit is in Thurrock. I am greatly concerned about how ethical this is to local residents who suffer from dementia and their relatives.

Residents in the local area would have to travel over 25 miles to access a dementia ward. Something which is a challenge and a financial burden for our elderly community. How can we expect relatives of dementia patients to travel all the way to Thurrock to visit their loved ones? Thurrock hospital offers no form of transport links with our local area (Southend/Rochford/Benfleet). The cost of a taxi is £55.00 for one way from Rochford to Thurrock hospital (£110 for a return).

Unlike physical health hospitals, admission to a dementia assessment unit is not a short stay. Patients will often stay for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, but as they pose such challenging behaviour, they often stay much longer as they cannot be placed in care homes and require a stay of several months.

Therefore, relatives will not only be doing the trip to Thurrock for a few days/weeks, they would have to pay for the travel for months upon months. How can we expect local pensioners in our area to afford this?

The expectation people should travel into another area for dementia care is astonishing, it is a backward step, and is certainly not beneficial to our local community.

Please can I ask for any support from you in this matter? We care so much about Maple ward and the elderly people in our community who are affected by dementia. We strongly oppose any plans to remove the dementia assessment unit from Rochford Hospital.

Yours sincerely

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St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition