A meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s health scrutiny committee on Monday (Dec 7) heard that four dementia patients are still being treated on the mainland, 15 months after the closure of facilities on the Island – a situation deemed ‘unacceptable’ by a health watchdog.
After Shackleton Ward, at St Mary’s Hospital, was deemed ‘unfit for purpose’ in 2017 it had a £200,000 refurbishment before opening in June 2019 but closed ‘indefinitely’ three months later in September. Since then patients with dementia and complex mental health needs have been placed in mainland facilities.
Dr Lesley Stevens, executive director of mental health and learning disabilities at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said a plan will be worked up over three to six months for specialist dementia care on the Island. It will include the provision of community-based dementia outreach services.
Dr Stevens said: “We want to stop, or absolutely minimise, sending people off-Island to mainland beds. The community provision is one way of achieving that. Developing dementia beds is another but we need to work through how we do that. We are in this position because of quality concerns around Shackleton and there are real challenges in delivering highly specialised, very small services that are isolated.”
Joanna Smith, manager of Isle of Wight Healthwatch, said it was not acceptable that people had to leave the Island to seek treatment— particularly during the Covid emergency. She said: “It is difficult enough for anyone to have to face treatment off-Island but when you have got significant problems due to dementia or Alzheimer’s they are compounded.”
Committee member, Cllr Michael Lilley, said it is often the family who are more distressed than those being cared for. He said: “These patients are human beings – they are part of families and the separation must be incredibly traumatic.”