08:30AM, Friday 20 January 2012
Maidenhead, Slough and Ascot could be without any mental health inpatient facilities in as little as 18 months time.
There are also no fixed plans on how patients and their families would travel to Prospect Park Hospital in Reading, where services are expected to move.
But there will be a pot of £100,000 available to spend each year on transportation to and from east Berkshire to Reading, health bosses said today at a media briefing in King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor. The meeting was held ahead of Tuesday's public board meeting where a final decision about the service will be made.
Dr Katie Simpson, GP lead for mental health in East Berkshire, said clinicians unanimously supported the move for both financial and clinical reasons.
She said facilities, such as Charles Ward at St Mark's Hospital in Maidenhead, were not fit for purpose and were at odds with recommendations made by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
She denied claims that Prospect Park would be like a Victorian asylum and argued it would help address the balance in quality of care between east and west Berkshire.
Bev Searle, director of joint commissioning at NHS Berkshire, said the move to Prospect Park was being driven by both financial and clinical reasons.
She said moving 65 beds and redeveloping Prospect Park will cost between £5-6m - whereas a new build would cost £20m and would have to be paid with a loan, resulting in even more spending.
The decision to move all mental health inpatients to Reading is due to be made by the NHS Berkshire PCT Cluster Board at a public meeting on Tuesday.
It starts at 10am at The Centre in Farnham Road, Slough.
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