The NHS in Kent and Medway is working to improve mental health care.
Part of this work includes replacing old-fashioned ‘dormitory-style' wards for mental health patients.
The Government has promised to eradicate mental health dormitory wards by 2024. They have given NHS organisations money to help achieve this.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) has been allocated £12.65 million to replace their last remaining dormitory ward – Ruby Ward, which is based in Medway Maritime Hospital.
We are now consulting on a proposal to relocate Ruby Ward from Medway Maritime Hospital to a new purpose-built unit on KMPT’s Maidstone site (adjacent to Maidstone Hospital). The consultation runs until midnight on Tuesday 21 September 2021.
You can find information here to help you respond to the consultation.
Artist's impression of entrance to proposed new mental health inpatient unit.
There are three versions of the consultation document available:
- The full consultation document sets out all the information you need to understand our proposal - it explains:
- why we want to make the proposed change
- how we developed the proposal
- and sets out the expected advantages and potential disadvantages
- The summary consultation document summary consultation document gives you a quick overview of the proposal and tells you where you can find more detail if you want it.
- An easy read version developed for people with learning disabilities or who have difficulty reading. This presents the proposals in an easy-to-understand way.
If you would like the consultation document in a different format, for example large print, braille or in another language please get in touch via the contact details provided on this web page.
Completing the consultation questionnaire is the easiest way to share your views with us.
If you would like to get in touch by phone, email or letter, contact details are also published on this page.
Below are some common questions about the Ruby Ward public consultation. If your question isn’t answered here, please do contact us.
What is the consultation about?
NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is consulting on a proposal to relocate the one remaining ‘dormitory-style' inpatient mental health ward – Ruby Ward – from Medway Maritime Hospital to a new purpose-built unit in Maidstone.
Although the ward is based at Medway Maritime Hospital, it is run by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT). Ruby 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.
The proposed new unit would be located on KMPT’s Hermitage Lane, Maidstone site. It would have single ensuite rooms, allowing the NHS in Kent and Medway to meet the national Government target of eradicating all dormitory style wards for mental health patients by 2024.
How can I get involved in the consultation?
The consultation will run for seven weeks, from Tuesday 3 August through to midnight on Tuesday 21 September 2021.
There are lots of ways to find out more about the proposal and share your views, including online public meetings, in-person exhibitions, the consultation document, consultation questionnaire and a wealth of background information. You can access all these via this web page.
Why does the NHS need to replace dormitory wards for mental health patients?
Evidence tells us that mental health dormitory wards (where there are several beds together in one ward separated only by curtains) do not support best practice care and can compromise patients’ privacy and dignity.
People who need to stay in hospital because of a mental health problem are typically admitted for several weeks at a time and need a calm and restful environment to support their recovery.
There is a national initiative to replace mental health dormitory wards led by NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission.
The Government has made funding available for NHS organisations to help replace dormitory wards with modern wards.
Kent and Medway Partnership Trust (KMPT) has bid and been allocated £12.65 million to replace the current Ruby Ward.
This funding means that every patient that needs to be admitted for inpatient mental health care in Kent and Medway should be able to have their own individual room.
How would the proposal benefit patients?
The new unit would be designed specifically to meet the needs of older adults with complex mental health illness.
It would offer single rooms with private bathrooms and plenty of space indoors and outside for patients and visitors.
It would also have dedicated space for providing a range of therapies – such as counselling, group therapy, creative activities – as well as facilities to help people relearn essential skills such as cooking and cleaning.
We anticipate that this environment would help patients recover faster, meaning they would be well enough to go home sooner.
How would the proposal benefit staff?
The current Ruby Ward makes it difficult for staff to offer the best possible care to patients.
We expect that, as well as offering a modern working environment, the new unit would allow staff to deliver the standard of care we know they strive for.
The new unit would also create more opportunities for training and development as staff would be able to offer a wider range of support and therapies. We hope that these improvements would increase job satisfaction for our staff.
How have patients, the public and staff been involved in developing the proposals?
As part of the process of identifying potential new locations for Ruby Ward, we have engaged with patients and the public, staff, and stakeholders.
We have held focus group sessions with previous Ruby Ward patients and their loved ones and had discussions with Ruby Ward staff about the proposal.
Overall they have been very supportive of the proposal and have been able to contribute lots of helpful suggestions about the design of the proposed new unit.
Why can’t the current Ruby Ward be refurbished?
We have looked carefully to see if we can adapt the current Ruby Ward to meet the required standards for acute mental health inpatient accommodation.
Unfortunately, this will not be possible because the current ward is not big enough to create single rooms and provide communal space for patients and visitors and to provide the range of therapies patients need.
What other locations did you consider for Ruby Ward?
In total we looked at 16 possible locations for Ruby Ward, including the current ward and the proposed new location.
All of the locations were evaluated against the same five criteria to assess whether the location was big enough, available in the timescale, located near other inpatient mental health and physical health services and whether it was owned by KMPT (a requirement for the government funding). Only the KMPT Maidstone site met all the criteria.
More detail about the sites we considered is available in the consultation document.
Does your proposal only impact people in Medway?
Acute mental health inpatient beds for older adults are provided on a Kent and Medway-wide basis. There are no ‘local’ beds allocated to particular communities – all acute mental health inpatient services are provided for all Kent and Medway residents.
People who need a stay in hospital are admitted to the most appropriate ward with the right specialist team to meet their individual needs.
Over the last four years, about 35 per cent of patients admitted to Ruby Ward were from Medway, a further 43 per cent from north and west Kent, and the rest from south and east Kent.
What will happen after the consultation?
After the consultation closes, an independent organisation will review the feedback we have received and prepare a report. We will carefully consider this alongside other evidence and information we have.
We expect to make a decision about whether to proceed with the proposal by late November 2021, so work can start in December 2021. The new unit would be ready in late 2022.
If you would like to see more detailed information about the proposal, please read the ‘pre-consultation business case' (PCBC), which is published on this page.
The PCBC is the document that our regulators, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body used to decide whether there is a clear case to proceed to public consultation.
It is a technical document that provides a wide range of information and evidence to support the proposal.
We are organising a series of online virtual public meetings and three drop-in exhibitions where you can learn more, speak to the programme’s clinical leaders and let us know what you think about our proposal.
Virtual public meetings
Four virtual public meetings are planned for the following dates:
- Wednesday 25 August 2021 – 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Thursday 2 September 2021 – 6:30pm to 8:30pm
- Tuesday 7 September 2021 - 6.30pm to 8.30pm
- Wednesday 15 September 2021 – 6:30pm to 8:30pm.
For further details and to register to attend, please visit the events section on this website.
- Saturday 11 September 2021 - 10.30am to 3.30pm - Sunlight Centre, 105 Richmond Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 1LX
Invite us to your group
Coronavirus has had a big impact on local groups and organisations who might have an interest in our proposals.
Where possible, we will be getting out and about to talk to people in person but we’re also happy to attend virtual groups and meetings to talk about our plans.
If you would like us to come to your group, please contact us via the phone or email contact details published on this page as soon as possible to discuss options.