Delayed mental health services consultation                   3/1/13

A delayed public consultation on changes to Western Isles mental health services is expected to take place within weeks.

The health board’s preferred way forward would mean a reduced number of inpatient beds at the Stornoway hospital and more care at home.

It is likely to see the replacement of the current two inpatient facilities - Acute Psychiatric Unit and Clisham Ward in Western Isles Hospital -  to a single unit for both adult and old age psychiatry. The number of beds would be cut from 16 to around eight or ten.

The board says modern community based services consist of teams of practitioners, including specialist nurses and doctors and support workers but this cannot be developed under the present system which sees staff and resources centred in Western Isles Hospital.

A planned three-month consultation was meant to start in August. However, it was postponed as it was not ready to go public.

It is unknown when it will get underway but is expected to be relatively soon. The health board says details and dates have yet to be agreed.

Members of the public, service users, carers, staff, third sector partners, and other stakeholders will be invited to take part in the consultation. Meetings will be held across the islands.

Western Isles NHS says the “case for changing the configuration of Mental Health Services is based on an understanding that the way services are currently set up in the Western Isles could be improved to provide more robust local access to services and support to service users closer to where they live.”

NHS Western Isles Medical Director Dr James Ward said: “Our aim is that high quality engagement and consultation with the public will take place over three months, when we can discuss the detail of acute service configuration, community service modelling and partnership. The consultation process will also allow for any specific concerns to be considered and discussed in detail.”

Ruled out is maintaining the present system of a five bed acute inpatient unit and 16 bed psychiatry old age unit, with no change in the current configuration of community services.

Also discarded is a proposal, favoured by the community of Barra, to develop a model with no inpatient beds locally, with acute psychiatry patients requiring admission to hospital being referred to mainland facilities.