Letter to Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust
Camden Borough User Group
Copy to Vincent Kirchner, Maureen Brewster, Adele McKay, Debbie May, Eric Cross & CBUG Members
15 July 2021
Re: Jules Thorn Day Hospital Closure – consultative procedure
We write to express our concern about the way the Jules Thorn Adult Day Unit at St Pancras Hospital has been closed with no option to provide another centre once the building is demolished to make way for the new Moorfields Building.
Since about 1980 the centre has provided care to hundreds of people who are in recovery mode. It has been a place of safety during the day when users have been able to meet their peers and do formal therapy, classes as well as other activities. The presence of a kitchen enabled many people who had difficulties with cooking or no facilities at home to enjoy each other’s company and have a nutritious meal.
Central to the success of the centre was a large donation in 1980 by Jules Thorn of Thorn Electrical; big enough for him to have the centre named after him. The Jules Thorn Charitable Trust may be willing to support another building of this nature and we think that this should be investigated.
Sad to say, the last twenty years have seen the governing bodies of mental health in Camden drive through several cuts to the mental health service and not always replacing losses with new facilities.
The FORDWYCH DAY HOSPITAL in West Hampstead was one of the first to go. This was followed by the FELIX BROWN DAY HOSPITAL, attached to the Royal Free Hospital. All the in-patient wards at THE ROYAL FREE HOSPITAL were next to go, some of them to The Highgate Mental Health Centre.
In recent years we have seen the closure of DALEHAM GARDENS DAY CENTRE, swiftly followed by THE HIGHGATE DAY CENTRE in Kentish Town. There followed the closure of the administrative and counselling centre at THE HOO in Lyndhurst Gardens. Finally, we have seen the closure of the JULES THORN DAY CENTRE in the grounds of St Pancras Hospital. Thus, within about twenty years, many treatment centres have disappeared.
What is more insidious is that The Trust has stated that referrals to Jules Thorn have declined. Is it possible that the Trust has instructed staff to stop referring users to the unit? We heard from a member of staff that this was exactly the case with Daleham Gardens.
Some of the units, including FORDWYCH and THE HOO, have been sold for private development.
No doubt some of these units will be replaced by something else, perhaps run by providers. Here, the lowest bid may be accepted, resulting in a degradation of service down the line.
So here we are, with Jules Thorn, yet another service which has become unavailable, ostensibly because of the pandemic.
We noticed that the presentation focused on crisis services, and we felt that this was used to deflect the issue of Jules Thorn. We do not see Jules Thorn as a crisis service.
The lack of demand, or lack of complaints that it was not available during the Covid period that you have cited is irrelevant as people were afraid to go out and should not be used as proof that people do not want to use it.
What is really concerning is how little real consultation there has been. True, officers of The Trust have spoken informally to users but there appears to have been no PUBLIC CONSULTATION with the wider community, including parents, siblings, friends, relatives, and carers.
The meetings have not been so much consultations as presentations. We have not been asked our views, or what Jules Thorn means to us. You have come with a set of slides of information that you want us to have, and not come with an ear to hear what we think. We do not consider this meaningful engagement.
If one in four of the community have mental health issues, then there must be thousands of people who are suffering and who must get in queues for pills, talking therapies, or home visits, which will not always be satisfactory.
In Camden there are hundreds of people whose lives collapse around them, and they may be left to wander the streets of Camden day and, more worryingly, at night.
We need a PROPER PUBLIC CONSULTATION and the re-provision of a day service which works for all users. Anything less will only do a disservice to the community.
Alternative services in the community were referred to. These often require a Care Act Assessment, which is largely geared towards physical health and not a good measure of mental health needs. Many service users will not be willing or able to complete the assessment as it is so personally invasive and demeaning to go through. The need to pay to access these community alternatives creates inequalities and barriers which goes entirely against the Community Mental Health Framework ethos.
Other services cannot meet the services that were provided at Jules Thorn. To provide other than that which we require would be an abrogation of public duty to the people of Camden.
Camden Borough User Group