Hartlepool mental health service moved as it is ‘not fit for purpose’

Sandwell Park. Picture by FRANK REID

Sandwell Park. Picture by FRANK REID

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A SERVICE of a hospital for mental health patients in Hartlepool has closed for six months after it was found to be not fit for purpose.

People who are found in public in a state of mental distress and are detained under the Mental Health Act will no longer be taken to Sandwell Park to be assessed.

Instead they will go to a better equipped facility in Middlesbrough.

It comes after the hospital’s Place of Safety failed to meet the standards set by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

They included the area not being a separate, locked facility to the rest of the hospital, there was no opportunity for patients to lie down.

Patients’ privacy and dignity was also compromised as visitors to Sandwell Park walk through the area where they are dealt with.

Sandwell Park, in Lancaster Road, is run by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

A trust spokesperson said: “From October 1, for a six month trial, people detained in Hartlepool under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act will be taken to Roseberry Park in Middlesbrough for an assessment.

“The Section 136 room at Sandwell Park Hospital no longer met the relevant Royal College of Psychiatrists standards, while the Section 136 suite at Roseberry Park is a specialist, purpose built environment, attached to psychiatric intensive care facilities.

“As well as providing an improved assessment environment, it is also anticipated that waiting times for assessments will reduce as there are more specialist staff available.

“Following assessment we will arrange transport to take a patient home, or to hospital if inpatient treatment is required, as well as helping with travel for a relative to be present at an assessment.

“On average we carry out two such assessments each month and to date have had no reported concerns from patients or carers.”

In the last year, Sandwell Park saw 28 people who were believed to be mentally unwell in public.

They included 18 at weekends or out of normal working hours.

An update on the trial will go before Hartlepool Borough Council’s adult services committee on Monday.

Committee member Councillor Keith Fisher said: “I’m always opposed to anything going out of town.

“Everything seems to be going away from Hartlepool and nothing is coming in.”