"Clinic move making attendance difficult"

About: Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health

(as a relative),

I have just read on the local news website that the mental health out patient clinic, The Willows ,in Sleaford is moving to The Point on the outskirts of Sleaford.

Do management in the Trust realise that there are only two buses a day that go out there - one arriving at 11.56 and one arriving at 17.05. No buses go back into town at all. I believe The Point is far too far out to expect people to walk there and a lot of people can't afford taxis. My wife will be left with no way of attending her appointments as she can't drive and certainly can't afford a taxi.

In my opinion this is making mental health care in Sleaford available only to people who can drive or are well enough off to pay a taxi fare.

I have phoned twice now to discuss this problem with staff at the Trust but I don't feel anyone is interested in the problems this will cause and I was told my wife would just have to walk. If she missed appointments she would be discharged.

I am also disappointed that this does not seem to have been discussed with service users and it might have been nice if you could have told us instead of us having to read about it on the internet.

Healthcare is supposed to be available to everyone - moving a health centre to a position where there is virtually no public transport to get patients there is, in my opinion, excluding alot of people from getting the care they are entitled to.

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Response from Caroline Hainsworth, Service Liaison Manager, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Dear 'tod',

Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns with Patient Opinion about the potential difficulties your wife and other service users, who currently access mental health services at The Willows in Sleaford, may experience. For some time now (as long ago as 2009), the Trust has been receiving negative feedback about accommodation at The Willows as “not being fit for purpose” and it has been challenging to find suitable alternative accommodation in Sleaford Town centre. There was no other suitable accommodation in Sleaford and the option to move to The Point became available.

We were aware of the potential difficulties regarding public transport as these were explored as part of the planned relocation and information has been collated that will be made available for service users to assist them in considering their options to attend appointments at The Point. These do include bus services and Call Connect bus services. We fully acknowledge that public transport provides a number of challenges in terms of availability across Lincolnshire so we would encourage any service user who has any difficulties travelling to the Point to raise this.

To this end the Trust is organising two half day drop-in sessions at the Willows to give Service Users, Carers and Relatives the opportunity to do this in person. Details will be posted on the Trust Website, at the Willows and will be posted on Patient Opinion as a response at a later date once the details are confirmed.

If we are aware of any individual difficulties/needs in attending appointments we can take that into consideration when planning to discharge service users from their treatment plan.

The reason for the move is to provide a number of benefits which include:-

Ø Larger premises which will allow us to treat more people with mild to moderate common mental health problems sooner

Ø Less people will have to travel to Boston, Lincoln or Grantham for treatment

Ø Modernised and appropriate facilities for talking therapies

Ø Dedicated free parking and better accessibility from major road networks for people who have their own transport

It has also become apparent from a number of communications we have had that service users do not feel that this move has been communicated effectively with them and we are sorry that this is the case and would encourage services users to attend the drop in sessions to rectify this.

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Update posted by tod (a relative)

It might have been better if you had consulted with service users and carers first. The fact that people had to read about this move in the media was not good. I feel that it would have been basic manners to have told service users yourselves.

As I pointed out in my original post, there are only two buses a day going out to The Point and none coming back. I have just phoned call connect and they do not make inter town journeys so anyone living in Sleaford will NOT be able to use Call Connect to get out to The Point. In effect I feel you are making mental health services available to people who are well off enough to afford a car of taxi - and excluding the less well off. I do feel you have not done your homework properly on this move.

I am a bit alarmed by this statement.

"If we are aware of any individual difficulties/needs in attending appointments we can take that into consideration when planning to discharge service users from their treatment plan." Does this mean you will be discharging people if they are unable to attend appointments? That is how I am reading this.

I hope that your staff are more helpful at your open days than were the staff I spoke to who I found not in the least bit helpful .

I would appreciate it if you could just tell me here how my wife will get out to the Point and back again when there are no buses and we cannot afford a taxi. I feel your reply did not address these issues accurately.

Response from Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust We have made a change

We can now confirm that the public consultation regarding the relocation of the Mental Health Services based at The Willows will be open to members of the public who are invited to attend a drop in session to discuss any concerns they may have about the move. These will take place on:

Tuesday 22 November 2011, 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

Thursday 24 November 2011, 1.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.

These will be held at The Source, Southgate, Sleaford, Lincs, NG34 7RY

There appears to have been a number of discrepancies in the information regarding available transport and some of the work we have been carrying out is to ensure that we can verify the accuracy of the information we are collating.

In respect of discharge arrangements from the service, if staff are aware of any difficulties they will be able to bear those in mind. If staff are not aware of difficulties they will not be able to factor that in to any treatment plan.