Top Mental Health Unit To Close

A pioneering hospital treating people with complex mental health problems is to close next week.

NHS bosses in charge of the Henderson Hospital in south west London said the closure was temporary and a public consultation will still take place.

But some staff believe it will be impossible to re-open the unit, which treats patients from across the Uk.

Only five people are there at the moment, and NHS managers are making alternative arrangements for them.

Staff at the hospital admitted the future was too uncertain for their residential treatment to continue. The hospital initially looked after soldiers with shell shock.

It evolved into offering unique treatment to people from many parts of the UK who had self-destructive tendencies, eating disorders or suicidal feelings.

Although the Henderson earned an international reputation, its referrals began to dry up after changes to the funding system.

The closure plans were condemned by leading doctors when they were announced late last year by the South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust.

Since then, campaigners and local MPs have lobbied health ministers.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Should there be sufficient referrals of people for admission at the same time, which would make the service clinically viable, the trust will re-open the hospital.

“The trust recognises that this is a difficult and challenging time for the staff at the Henderson. They have made tremendous efforts to maintain a viable service as resident numbers dropped.”