STRUCTURE: Commissioners in Kent have set out plans to reconfigure services for mental health patients experiencing a “crisis”, after a review identified weaknesses with the current layout.  

The proposals would see crisis services consolidated at three sites rather than the current four, but would also result in the expansion of outreach and home treatment services.

An estimated 3,000 people in Kent and Medway with serious mental health problems experience a crisis every year that requires urgent treatment.

However, a recent review by NHS Kent and Medway, and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Partnership Trust concluded that the east of the county lacked specialist hospital beds and needed better psychiatric intensive outreach services, while Medway had “unsuitable” inpatient services.

As a result, they plan to create three “centres of excellence” in Dartford, Maidstone and Canterbury, which would be supported by an expanded psychiatric intensive care outreach service. All the units would have single rooms, en suites and access to outdoor space.

There would also be an annual investment of £297,000 in extra crisis resolution home treatment staff from April 2013 to enable more patients to be treated at home.

However, Medway Maritime Hospital’s “A Block” would no longer provide acute mental health hospital care, meaning people from Medway, Sittingbourne and Sheppey would in future be treated at one of the three centres of excellence.

Commissioners and providers argue that the A Block is “not suitable for 21st century mental health crisis care” because of its few single rooms and poor sightlines for staff.

A consultation on the proposals closes on 26 October.