A public consultation on proposals to relocate Kent and Medway’s one remaining dormitory-style inpatient mental health ward to a purpose-built unit is under way.
The NHS in Kent and Medway has been awarded £12.65million of Government funding to invest in eradicating dormitory wards for mental health patients in the county.
The consultation is part of testing the proposals - to improve services by relocating Ruby Ward from Medway Maritime Hospital to a new purpose-built unit in Maidstone - with local people.
The consultation, led by NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will run for seven weeks, until midnight on Tuesday, 21 September 2021.
Speaking about the consultation, Dr Navin Kumta, GP and Chair of the CCG said: “I would encourage people across Kent and Medway to get involved in this important consultation and share their views.
“While inpatient care accounts for a small proportion of all mental health services, it is important that when people need to go into hospital the environment supports their recovery.
“I look forward to hearing from local people in the coming weeks about our proposal.”
About Ruby Ward
Although Ruby Ward is based at Medway Maritime Hospital, it is run by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).
The ward is for older adults, people aged 65 and over, with what is known as functional mental illness, for example severe depression, schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.
At the moment, Ruby Ward is only for female patients, admitting women from across Kent and Medway.
Proposed new unit
The proposed new unit would be located on KMPT’s Hermitage Lane, Maidstone site alongside other inpatient mental health care facilities.
It would be designed specifically to meet the needs of older adults with complex mental illness, with single ensuite rooms and dedicated space for providing a range of therapies such as counselling, group therapy and creative activities.
There would be dedicated areas indoors and outside for patients and visitors and facilities to help people relearn essential skills, such as cooking and cleaning.
It is anticipated this environment would help patients recover faster, meaning they would be well enough to go home sooner.
The proposal would enable the NHS in Kent and Medway to meet a national Government target of eradicating all dormitory style wards for mental health patients by 2024.
Dr Rosarii Harte, Consultant Psychiatrist and Deputy Medical Director at KMPT, said: “KMPT is fully supportive of the proposal as we expect it will deliver significant improvements in the care provided to the people we support on Ruby Ward and will offer our staff a more positive working environment.
“Providing a person with privacy helps protect their dignity and these proposals would mean that KMPT should be able to offer every person admitted as an inpatient a room of their own.
“This, in addition to access to a wide-range of therapies, helps to support the person’s recovery, meaning they will be able to return home to their families and loved ones as quickly as possible.”
After the consultation ends, an independent agency will compile and review the consultation feedback.
This will be presented to the CCG’s Governing Body to inform its decision-making.
The final decision is expected in November 2021, and if the proposals are confirmed, the new unit would be ready in late 2022.