Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Cranmer Ward at St Martin's Hospital, Canterbury to be sold to Homes England for £6.32m

A hospital ward containing 15 beds for mental health patients is to be sold for £6.32m.

Staff at Kent and Medway Partnership Trust were informed today that the old St Martins site in Canterbury, a Victorian wing where older patients with conditions such as dementia are cared for, is to be sold to the housing provider Homes England.

The NHS Trust has agreed to vacate the building, which contains Cranmer Ward and some staff offices, by April 2020 at the latest.

St Martin's Hospital, Canterbury
St Martin's Hospital, Canterbury

In a letter to all staff, KMPT chief executive Helen Greatorex said the potential sale of the building has been under consideration for "a number of years".

"It is no longer fit for purpose and the size and scale of it truly is a remnant of the asylums of the early nineteen hundreds, not the modern mental health service we want to provide," she said.

"Every single penny of that money will be spent on the fabric of our services, with a priority on our wards.

"We all want our patients to receive the best possible care in modern facilities that support recovery and wellbeing. This new money will enable us to go faster and further with our ambition to make all our wards pleasant and modern.

"Clinically-led work is already well under way to ensure that our Cranmer patients and their loved ones are carefully supported and there will be lots of time for us to work together and plan a sequential and well-organised move out for everyone based in St Martins."

Helen Greatorex
Helen Greatorex

The decision was taken at a meeting of the trust's board yesterday afternoon, where final details of the sale were agreed.

Ms Greatorex added that the plans have been approved by NHS Improvement because Homes England is a public sector organisation "committed to building social housing".

However Kent Online's sister paper, the Kentish Gazette, revealed concerns earlier this week that as a result of the sale, patients in Cranmer Ward could be transferred to the hospital's newer Samphire Ward, an acute ward for men aged 18 to 65 struggling with severe conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or psychosis.

This would lead to the effective loss of 15 beds - a move campaigners fear would place even greater demand on acute mental health beds at a time when services are already under strain.

With a total of 69 beds for adults under-65 at the St Martin's site in Littlebourne Road, a loss of beds for that age group in Samphire Ward would mean a reduction in capacity of more than 20%.

Across all of Kent, there are only 165 acute beds for patients aged 18 to 65 and a further 12 in psychiatric intensive care units.

A spokesman for the East Kent Carers Council, which campaigns on behalf of carers of people with mental health difficulties, said: "When somebody is psychotically ill to the point of hearing voices or seeing things that are not there or having suicidal thoughts, or harming others, they should be hospitalised for assessment, medication and care.

"This would effectively lower the younger adult bed stock to 150. To do this at a time when the mental health service is being promised expansion in terms of monies and facilities would be highly sensitive and dangerous, in our view.

"About seven years ago the primary care trust and KMPT decided to close all beds at Ashford and Margate and concentrate capacity in Canterbury, Dartford and Maidstone.

"Since then we have had years of misery and pain with not enough beds within Kent and clients being hospitalised to far flung corners of England, meaning that carers - because of the distances and expense - have not been able to visit.

"We never want to experience those circumstances again."

The trust has confirmed proceeds from the sale will go towards a programme of "ward upgrades", including £2.5m worth of work to Samphire Ward.

What do you think? Email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More