Councillor demands consultation over ‘under the radar’ changes to Colchester mental health ward
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A concerned councillor has demanded transparency from an NHS trust over the future of a vital mental health ward in north Essex.
The Peter Bruff Ward, run by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) at the Kings’s Wood Centre in the grounds of Colchester General Hospital, currently offers inpatient treatment for acute psychological problems.
Essex county councillor Andy Wood, who is also a governor at EPUT, claims plans are being formed behind closed doors to “downgrade” it to an assessment ward in April.
Mr Wood, who represents Clacton North, said rumours had been confirmed to him by “several sources”, but there had been no official communication with governors, staff or members of the public.
“I want a proper consultation and to explain to us as people who are paying their wages exactly what they are doing and what benefits it will bring for my residents,” he said.
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“Then maybe I will say ‘brilliant idea, I’m quite happy because my residents will be better off’, but at the moment they haven’t said anything and I’m not happy.
“I want them to come out with plans about why they are doing it just so my residents know they are not cutting the service they are making it better.”
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EPUT confirmed there were plans to make changes to the Peter Bruff Ward, but said a full consultation would be held.
The ward was moved from Clacton Hospital to Colchester 18 months ago.
Mr Wood said bosses gave assurances at the time that the unit would not be turned into an assessment ward.
The councillor also opposed that move because he is concerned too many vital services are being removed from Tendring.
He added: “I can’t see the logic in taking all the services from north-east Essex, we will end up having nothing down here.”
A spokesman for EPUT said: “We are currently looking at various options to improve services at Peter Bruff Ward and nothing has been decided at this stage.
“When we make plans to change a service, it is always in the best interest of our patients. “We have been in discussions with the Clinical Commissioning Groups who commission our services and we plan to consult with our staff, the public and the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the near future.”