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Threat of closure hanging over Merton mental health ward Norfolk Lodge
The future of a mental health rehabilitation centre caring for some of the most vulnerable of patients is in doubt after a now defunct commissioning body chose to close it.
Norfolk Lodge in Norfolk Road, Colliers Wood, cares for patients with long term mental illnesses and who require further support following admission to St. Georges Mental Health Trust.
In March 2013, just days before doctors took control of commissioning health services in Merton, Sutton and Merton PCT recommended the centre should close.
Instead the PCT said services should be provided from within the private sector.
Merton’s newly established Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suspended the closure and has now said the process will be halted until all residents have been assessed and found alternative care.
The ward, which cares for up to 11 patients, has been open for the last 15 years and is fully staffed by trained mental health nurses and a psychiatrist from Springfield Hospital in Tooting.
Laura Johnson, of Merton and Sutton Rethink Mental Illness, said: "Patients who are referred there tend to be long term seriously mentally ill who need a longer period of rehabilitation and support than would be available to them on a busy acute ward.
"The ward for Merton patients at Springfield Hospital has 23 beds which are always full and at any one time Merton patients have to be placed on wards throughout the area including Tolworth and Roehampton.
"The CCG say they are not responsible for this decision.
"There has been no consultation about the closure with carers or users which is a statutory NHS requirement.
"The first we knew about it was an announcement made by the manager for nursing services without comment, on the 19th July to the members of the Acute Care Forum for Sutton & Merton." She added: "The main motive for the proposed closure is financial but the CCG is saving money at the cost of care to the most ill and vulnerable members of our community."
Merton's CCG have said they are working with Merton Council and Norfolk Lodge to determine the long term care of its patients in need to mental health services.
A spokeswoman for Merton’s CCG, said: "We have stopped the plans to close Norfolk Lodge and will review the best way to deliver care for all service users.
"As part of our review, we will work with service users on a care pathway for mental health services in Merton, which will mean that vulnerable adults get the best care and support possible.
"We will make sure any changes we propose as part of this review are agreed by service users, patient groups and all relevant parties."
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