Former Patients Make Bid To Reopen Psychiatric Hospital

Former residents of an acclaimed psychiatric hospital will tomorrow present their case to have it reopened to a panel with the power to decide its future.

The Henderson hospital, Surrey, closed in April despite a spirited campaign to save it by staff and former residents, who credit its unique user-led treatment with helping to turn their lives around.

The meeting, in Sutton, south-east London, previews a public consultation due to start in September to consider its future, alongside all residential personality disorder services in the region.

Ex-residents are to give a five-minute presentation. Another Henderson supporter, one of the hospital’s consultant psychiatrists in psychotherapy, Dr Diana Menzies, will explain how its therapeutic community operated and what has happened to residents since it shut in April.

Peter Houghton, the chief executive of the South-west London and St George’s mental health trust, will talk about its temporary closure and transition arrangements for patients and staff.

The meeting is the first by the joint overview and scrutiny committee charged with considering provision of services for people with personality disorders in London and the south-east.

As well as electing a chairperson, the committiee will set the terms of reference for the public consultation.

Residents blame a government-dictated shift from national to local commissioning for a drop in demand for the hospital’s services, which ultimately led to its closure.

Other key speakers are Nick Benefield, the head of the national personality disorders programme and senior policy adviser for Health and Offender Partnerships, which aims to improve offenders’ health; and Jo Scott, the associate director of the south-east coast specialised commissioning group, a coalition of primary care trust service purchasers from Kent, Surrey and Sussex.