The success of the county’s mental health services in treating in-patients within Hertfordshire has been acknowledged at a meeting of the health scrutiny committee.
In the past Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) Trust has had to place up to 35 in-patients outside of the county – because demand for mental health beds exceeded the beds they had available.
But on Wednesday (December 9) a meeting of the health scrutiny committee heard that that figure was now zero – with no in-patients currently in beds outside Hertfordshire.
HPFT chief executive Karen Taylor said she was ‘really pleased’ to be able to tell councillors that the number of patients out of county had been reduced to single figures – reaching zero last week.
And this was acknowledged by as “excellent” at the meeting, by Liberal Democrat Cllr Chris Lloyd. Councillors were told that the Trust had block purchased 42 beds from a private mental health provider within the county.
And they were told the Trust was now looking at options, that could include the provision of additional facilities at the Lister Hospital site, in Stevenage. Alternative plans for a new in-patient unit close to the Lister have not yet secured the necessary capital funding from the New Hospitals Programme.
“Ideally we want to get to the point where everything can be provided within the NHS and within HPFT,” said Ms Taylor.
“But as you know we had put forward for some capital funding under the hospital improvement New Hospitals Programme.
“Unfortunately we weren’t successful – so we didn’t get the east and north bed base that we were looking for to be funded. It was going to be a site outside Stevenage.
“So we are looking at ‘plan b’ options – and that includes opening additional 0beds on the Lister site, for example.”
Councillors were told that based on population, there were 50 additional beds needed in the county – with Hertfordshire having one of the lowest number of mental health beds per 100,000 population.
Meanwhile it was also reported that the trust was working to reduce the number of people waiting in accident and emergency units who are experiencing mental ill health. A mental health assessment centre is being developed on the Lister site, it was reported.
And this is said to be part of the Trust’s vision to have a mental health centre on the site – which would incorporate a ‘place of safety’, increased bed provision, an assessment unit and other services.