By Tony Earnshaw
Mental health provision in Kirklees will still exist after a huge overhaul of the system, health chiefs have promised.
And despite beds being cut by almost two-thirds, people suffering from extreme psychotic problems will not be abandoned.
Health chiefs have previously announced plans to downsize Enfield Down at Honley, which is now Huddersfield’s last remaining mental health unit and the only facility in Kirklees to admit adult in-patients who are suffering mental health crises such as psychosis, manic depression or schizophrenia.
And they have confirmed that if their proposals get the go-ahead bed numbers will reduce from 32 “to between 12 and 15”.
However they remain “100% committed” to in-patient mental health provision within Kirklees.
The plan is part of a wider project to transform mental health and rehabilitation moving towards what is described as “a community-led model of care”.
At Kirklees Council’s health scrutiny panel, Vicky Dutchburn, head of strategy, business planning and service improvement at Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group, outlined the outline proposal.
She said the layout of the 32-bed facility on Station Road - formerly an old people’s home - did not satisfy quality and safety requirements.
And on being quizzed by Prof Peter Bradshaw, a co-optee of the panel and a former health policy advisor to the Margaret Thatcher government, about safety she said some patients would still be subject to restrictions.
“Some of these people with residual psychotic problems might not be easy to manage under other arrangements,” observed Prof Bradshaw, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Huddersfield.
Ms Dutchburn responded: “We have a range of individuals that will need some sort of rehabilitation. The people that need the bed base - the in-patient facility - are the people who will have extreme, complex presentations.
“Keeping patients safe has proven difficult.”
She said the CCG was looking at whether Enfield Down could be refurbished or if there was a requirement to move to alternative premises or even to embrace a new build.
“A lot of the people that have used Enfield Down and potentially still use it could move to other more suitable facilities, be that sheltered living, supported living accommodation [or] group homes.”
She added that if bed numbers were not fully used by people within Kirklees they could be used by patients from other authorities. She indicated that the CCG was talking to colleagues in Bradford, Leeds and Barnsley about mental health services in those areas.
“What we recognise is that any services that we develop may not meet 100% of need. There will still be occasional requirements for individuals to go out of area for very extreme of specialised placements but the aim is that we will have much more provision locally.
“We did not have a team that specialised in rehabilitation. We would want to develop that.
“Whether that is in Enfield Down or some other reconfigured base or somewhere else within Kirklees is still to be determined. We still need a bed base but it will be very different from what we have currently got.”