Joy as proposal to relocate female mental health patients from Chichester is dropped

A former mental health patient who campaigned against proposals to turn Oaklands Ward in Chichester into a male-only unit has said she was ‘really pleased’ the idea was dropped.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 5:20 pm
Tracey Horne

Tracey Horne from Ford had feared female patients would have been moved ‘miles away from home’ to wards in Worthing or Crawley if the plan had gone ahead.

Instead, it has been confirmed that Oaklands Ward in Chichester will remain mixed-sex, a measure which a spokesman said ‘will allay concerns that there would be no female inpatient beds in the Chichester area’.

The 51-year-old said: “I’m really pleased that’s what has been decided.

“I did a lot of work, contacting Nick Gibb and going to the consultation, because I felt so strongly about it.

“The service had to remain in Chichester – people were using it, it was working well, there were no problems on the ward.

“I felt so passionate, not just for myself but for younger females who were coming through the mental health service.

“I don’t know how they would have felt if they were sent to Worthing if not Crawley.”

She said it was ‘overwhelming’ enough having to go onto a ward without being ‘much further away’ from home.

Tracey has been supported at Oaklands ward in Graylingwell in the past.

She previously told the Observer: “I was treated at the ward for a while and it helped me survive when I didn’t want to live...

“Being close to home and having regular support helped me. The team there were able to take me home and make me feel safe...

“Oaklands saved my life. The support enabled me to come out the other side smiling and wanting to live.”

She said she was pleased to have spoken out about the issue.

“For a mental health patient, that someone has listened to us has really made me feel it was worthwhile putting my own energy in, even though it took a lot out of me,” she said.

The final proposals for the mental health services shake-up were revealed last week.

The West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Sussex Partnership) first put forward proposals in July 2019 to move old and poor-quality wards in Chichester and Horsham to more modern wards in Worthing and Crawley.

Following a public consultation on the plans between July and October 2019, the proposals were reviewed in light of responses received from hundreds of people, including service users, carers, families, representative groups, charities and politicians and some changes were made.

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Sussex NHS Commissioners’ Dementia Clinical Lead, Bikram Raychaudhuri GP, said: “Our proposals mean that people with serious mental health problems and dementia will receive high-quality care in modern and safe environments which preserve their privacy and dignity.

“By involving as many people as possible before and during the consultation - especially service users and those who care for them - we have been able to develop revised proposals which we believe answer the concerns and issues raised, and provide improved ways of caring for people now and for the future.

“We thank everyone who took part.”