In this short article our campaign researchers take us through the story of how, Step by step, mental health beds have closed in Ealing as the NHS funding crisis unfolded.
We must not forget what has been taken away and we continue to campaign for vital services..
A Summary of Mental Health Ward Closures in Ealing
St Bernard’s Hospital has been providing mental health care to the people of Ealing since it first opened in 1931. Based on the same site as Ealing Hospital, it includes beds for male and female adults with mental health conditions, as well as specialist services for older people.
Over the past ten years, St Bernard’s has lost approximately 70 beds through closures, meaning that more Ealing residents and carers are having to travel out of the borough for mental health care and treatment.
In 2013, the John Conolly Wing (JCW) was closed and demolished to make way for a new Forensic Medium Secure Unit (catering for patients who require a higher level of security). As a result, patients from acute services were relocated to four wards at Wolsey Wing on the Ealing site (Hope, Horizon, Starlight and Discovery), and others to wards at Lakeside and Charing Cross.
As part of the closure of JCW, two older people’s wards (Windemere and Coniston), which had 16 beds each, closed and the 18-bedded Jubilee ward opened (leading to a net loss of 14 beds).
Following the move to the Wolsey Wing, Starlight ward (8 female beds) and Discovery ward (17 male beds) also subsequently closed. Both wards were noted to be doing well in 2013 as you can read here.
In 2019/2020, two rehab wards (Mott House and Glyn ward) moved from the Ealing site to Lakeside, where they were amalgamated and renamed Robin ward. Mott House was a Highly accredited Adult Rehab service.
The Wolsey Wing (Hope and Horizon) closed to inpatients due to the COVID pandemic in March 2020. There is no information available at present about if/when those wards will reopen. This means that since the closure of these wards, patients from the borough of Ealing who need inpatient psychiatry admissions are being admitted in either Hammersmith or Hounslow. A freedom of information response is pending on admission of Ealing patients to private psychiatry wards.
Hope was a female admissions ward with 17 beds, and Horizon a male admission ward of 14 beds. In 2016, the CQC report mentioned that both wards could be noisy, unsettled and that the long narrow layout of the wards did not provide adequate communal space, including access to quiet areas.
In the last 5 years (11/06/16 – 11/06/21), 16 and 17 year old adolescent patients with acute mental health problems were admitted to adult wards on 37 occasions across areas covered by West London NHS Trust. The Ealing Hospital site has no mental health wards dedicated to 16 and 17 year old patients, and it is unclear whether the Trust has any standard operating procedure to ensure that such young people are appropriately supported when admitted in adult mental health wards.