Child and adolescent mental health services to close at hospital in East Sussex

A hospital in East Sussex has confirmed that it will no longer provide NHS mental health services for young people due to problems recruiting specialist permanent staff.

Health news. Photo: Shutterstock

Priory Hospital Ticehurst, a private hospital in Ticehurst which provides NHS children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), said patients would be transferred to another setting.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: “Due to challenges in recruiting specialist permanent staff, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to pause the CAMHS services at Ticehurst Hospital.

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“The pause is taking place in a phased manner, not all at once, and it is a precautionary measure which is not related to any incidents at the service.

“The care of those we support is our absolute priority, and we are working closely with the patients, their families, and partners to ensure the young people in our care are fully supported as we work to enable a smooth transfer to a setting which best meets their needs.

“Staff who work on the wards will be redeployed within Priory Group, mainly to other wards at the hospital.”

The hospital provides CAMHS services across two wards – the 12-bed Keystone ward, which is a mixed-sexed psychiatric intensive care unit, and UpperCourt, a 13-bed female-only general ward.

It caters for young people aged 13 to 18 with a broad range of issues, such as early onset psychosis, emergent personality disorder and autism spectrum disorder with mental disorders.

The service also offers treatment for young people with ‘severe, high risk and complex mental health difficulties’ – including those who pose a high level of risk to themselves and others, according to its website.

Commenting on the news, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven, said ‘low pay, high training fees and hemorrhaging EU staff’ was ‘crippling mental health support and CAMHS’.

He said in a tweet: “Three days ago NHS England told me CAMHS (Children/Adolescent Mental Health) General Unit and Psychiatric ICU at Ticehurst would shut immediately.

“Not due of lack of need, but of staff.

“Low pay, high training fees and hemorrhaging EU staff is crippling mental health support and CAMHS.”

CAMHS services at the hospital in Ticehurst were rated inadequate following an inspection in September 2019 and a warning notice was issued.

The unannounced inspection was made after concerns were raised about poor staffing levels, the high use of agency staff, poor medicines management and the number of incidents occurring at the service.

The warning notice was lifted in December 2019, but following a recent inspection in December 2020 the inadequate rating remained in place.

In its report from the most recent inspection, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the ward environments were safe and that the service had improved the way they managed patient safety incidents.

In response to concerns about the ability to deliver safe care to young people, the hospital had reduced the number of young people it would take on each ward, according to the report.