Talks started over proposed closure of Hartlepool rehab centre

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MENTAL health bosses have launched a consultation over the proposed closure of a rehabilitation centre for adults in Hartlepool.

The Tees Esk and Wear Valley is looking to close the nine-bed mixed-sex facility in Victoria Road as part of plans aimed at improving mental health services for adults and getting them back into the community more quickly.

The number of residents at Victoria Road has been reducing over the past two years. At the end of September there were no residents left and the facility was temporarily closed.

Trust bosses are now consulting on plans to permanently close the site and sell the building, which opened in 1996 and provided continuing care and rehabilitation and accommodation for patients, in come cases up to five years.

Officials say while it is in good condition the rooms do not have en-suite facilities, which is a key requirement of modern mental health care units.

Also, that more people are now receiving rehabilitation at home while other providers have demonstrated they can also support patients with complex care needs in the community.

Patients that have recently left the Victoria Road site are now either receiving care at home, at residential homes or at similar sites in Middlesbrough and Stockton run by the Trust.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee met to discuss the plans.

David Brown, director of operations for the Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, said the last patient moved out in September and that the long-term proposal is to sell the building.

Mr Brown said the closure had only been in place a month and that they would take a longer-term view to see how successful it has been after he was asked by Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher whether there had been much feedback, positive or negative.

Coun Akers-Belcher, who works in mental health services, called for the committee to have more insight into why these decisions are being made because he said it can sometimes be a positive step.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “We have a horrible history of the way we treat people with mental health issues, putting them away and there are still some people in society who are struggling to deal with the impact of being locked away.

“We should step back and look at the facts before being alarmed about bed closures.

“I see more people being treated at home and that is often the preference.”

Stephen Thomas, of Healthwatch, said: “The consultation needs to take place at the right time with the stakeholders before a direction of travel has been decided.”

Consultation deadline is December 31. To take part email mynhstees@nhs.net