As a councillor there is enough beating of one’s head against a wall to make even small impacts rewarding.
Today, as expected, the Mental Health Trust for our area made its decision on provision for elderly sufferers from severe dementia, sufferers whose behaviours are so challenging that they cannot be catered for outside of hospital. The decision is to close the Picktree Ward at Lanchester Road, and to cater for sufferers from this condition only at Bishop Auckland.
Readers of my first article will know that I opposed the closure of the Durham ward from day one – even before the proposals to consider it were made public.
Readers of my next article will know that the outcome was never in doubt. The consultation was of the early twentieth century Henry Ford approach – you can have any colour car you like so long as it is black.
So why do I refer to “small impacts”. That’s because, after heavy lobbying in which I led the charge, two concessions have been extracted – for six months at least.
One is that, in discussion, if it would better suit patients and carers from the north of the county to receive treatment in the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, or the Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust, this option will be allowed if beds are available.
The other is that there will be assistance with transport (either in the form of “excess” private mileage reimbursement, trust provided taxi or volunteer private scheme provision) for people who, like us in Consett, will have further to travel to visit loved ones in hospital.
Both these concessions will be subject to review after six months, and I am therefore very keen to hear from anyone who is is a relative or carer for an elderly dementia sufferer who has to be admitted to hospital in this period – partly so that I can check how this “mitigation scheme” is working, and partly so that I have some actual experiences to set against the monitoring figures which we will be supplied with.
If anyone would like full details of the “mitigation scheme” just email me and I’ll get it to you.