‘Gransha unit will meet crisis needs’

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The Western Trust have moved to allay the concerns of patients over the transfer of care from the current Gransha Hospital site to a new £10m Mental Health Crisis Unit due to open in October of this year.

The new facility, which Western Trust officials say will “set the benchmark” for mental health provision, will offer 30 inpatient crisis beds as well as daycare facilities. It will also house administration offices for the Trust’s Mental Health Team.

However the 30 inpatient bed provision marks a 25% drop in the number of beds available for those suffering a mental health crisis from current levels and a drop of more than 50% since the 1990s - when 64 beds were provided at the Gransha site.

One service user who contacted the ‘Journal’ expressed her concern about the inpatient levels. “Currently the hospital has 40 beds. The new hospital will have 30 beds. These 30 beds are to meet the needs of people from Derry, Limavady and Strabane.

“I don’t know how the management of Gransha Hospital plan to reduce bed spaces in the new hospital when it cannot currently meet the need with the beds that exists,” she claimed.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she had frequently seen female patients transferred to the male ward, or moved to facilities outside of Gransha - despite, she said, having been assessed as being in need of hospital treatment.

‘Castle or tent’

“The new facilities may look impressive, but if you have mental health issues you don’t care if you are being cared for in a castle or a tent - as long as you can access the care you need,” she said.

On the back of these concerns the ‘Journal’ was invited on a site visit of the new facility where Bernard McAnaney, Assistant Director of Adult Mental Health said he was confident it would meet the inpatient demands.

“The 30 beds are in line with the recommendations in the Bamford Review of Mental Health Services,” Mr McAnaney said, adding that the shift of focus in mental health care these days was towards care in the community. He said inpatient care for those in most serious need ran alongside a “significant” increase in care provided through mental health teams, assisted living schemes, intensive home support teams and much more.

“Inpatient care is not always the best course of action, even for someone in crisis. The level of care a person needs will be assessed by a multidisciplinary team in conjunction with their family. It is not always appropriate for someone to be hospitalised,” he said.

The new facilities, Mr McAnaney said, are a “world away” from current service provision at the existing Gransha site.

Each patient will have their own private room - affording them privacy and dignity. Shared spaces are secure and designed for each individual user group and the design of the interior of the building allows for a great deal of flexibility in coping with fluctuating patient numbers and levels of need.