Birmingham psychiatric unit to be closed in cost-cutting move

A BIRMINGHAM mental health hospital is to be closed down as part of a cost-cutting exercise, leaving psychiatric patients without vital residential care.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust is closing Main House intensive treatment unit in Northfield because there isn’t enough NHS funding to keep it running.

Psychiatrists condemned the imminent closure of the personality disorder service, saying the move was “unacceptable”.

Dr Stephen Edwards, chairman of West Midlands division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “If it closes, very vulnerable individuals will suffer. Health and social services and the courts will face additional demands.

“We are concerned to learn that Main House is being prepared for closure as it provides a unique and quality service for people across the Midlands whose needs cannot be met close to home. We believe urgent action is required to keep Main House open.”

Patients who stay at the unit receive specialised treatment.

Main House received national funding for its personality disorder service to treat patients from across the region until April 2006, when the financial responsibility moved to Birmingham mental health chiefs.

Drastic cuts are now being made because it costs £700,000 a year.

The Mental Health Trust promised the closure, expected to take place in the coming months, would not lead to any redundancies as staff would be relocated.

Trust spokeswoman Emma Brady, said: “Unless there is a change to the national funding position of Main House, the trust board has concluded that once the current residents have completed their treatment, the service will have to close.

“This would be subject to ongoing discussion and consultation with staff, patients and other stakeholders on the wider implications of the change.

“Despite making every possible effort over the past three years to ensure the service can cover its costs, it is now losing approximately £700,000 per year.

“This results in scarce local resources being diverted away to support a national service.

“The Trust is committed to maintaining an open and sensitive dialogue with both Main House residents and staff during what will naturally be an anxious and unsettling time.”

Primary Care Trusts for the city are looking into enhancing existing day therapy services for patients.