The Independent London Newspaper


Shame of empty beds

Published: 22 October, 2010

• PRE-SPENDING review cuts are already beginning to hurt the most needy. I was horrified, when visiting a friend in Highgate Mental Health Centre, to find the ward in which she had previously stayed was closed. Sixteen beds empty in a mental health hospital in the eighth-poorest borough and with the highest suicide rate in the country.

Our local mental health trust claims that there is bed under-occupancy. This is rubbish. One of the patients I saw yesterday told me she was rejected when attempting to get admitted to the hospital two weeks before she attempted suicide. 

The gates are barred to a lot of people with mental health problems, as too many people know to their cost. Does it have to come to suicide attempts, or other unpleasant events, to get beds?

Disgracefully, Camden and Islington Mental Health Foundation Trust is planning to cut 100 beds – that’s two mental health units. Mental health day care provision is also being cut, as are the jobs of those who care in the community.

The reality is that the trust has to make £5million cuts, and beds are the most expensive and therefore easiest to cut. This is prior to the new cuts to be imposed from Wednesday, and the impact those cuts will have on people’s mental health.  

We need to oppose these horrendous cuts on some of the vulnerable in our society.

Chair, Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition 


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