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Sittingbourne dementia patient is cared for 50 miles from home as Frank Lloyd centre is wound down

A woman is being cared for 50 miles away from her home because health bosses are closing a specialist centre in her own town.

She had been staying in a retirement home in Sittingbourne because of her dementia but when her condition became too challenging she was transferred to a specialist home in Benfleet, Essex.

Denise Petro of Sittingbourne is angry over plans by the clinical commissioning group to close the Frank Lloyd Dementia Centre at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital. Picture: Matthew Walker. (17656163)
Denise Petro of Sittingbourne is angry over plans by the clinical commissioning group to close the Frank Lloyd Dementia Centre at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital. Picture: Matthew Walker. (17656163)

The news comes after campaigner Denise Petro called for a public meeting to reverse plans to close the Frank Lloyd dementia unit on the site of Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital in Bell Road.

At the same time, health bosses have pulled out of talks with county councillors to explain their action.

Denise Petro, who is trying to save the Frank Lloyd centre, said: "These are violent patients who need specialist care. To say they can go into nursing homes for specialist care in most instances is not true."

In a letter to Paula Wilkins, the Chief Nurse at NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group which is pulling the plug on the unit, Mrs Petro asked: "I wonder if Swale CCG actually takes note of what is happening nationally?

"Dementia has become a massive problem. To say patients with complex needs can be cared for within the community is a fallacy."

Plans by the clinical commissioning group are in place to close the Frank Lloyd Dementia Centre at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital. Picture: Matthew Walker. (21714982)
Plans by the clinical commissioning group are in place to close the Frank Lloyd Dementia Centre at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital. Picture: Matthew Walker. (21714982)

Mrs Petro, 72, from Kent Avenue, Sittingbourne, said: "In my previous work I delivered courses for Kent Adult Education for Health Care Assistants within the home and I have seen the type of patients the Frank Lloyd Unit has had to deal with.

"I have a relative in a care home in Sittingbourne and my husband suffers from vascular dementia so I know the complexities of caring for someone with dementia.

"I have been in touch with several nursing homes in Sittingbourne and they have confirmed they cannot accommodate patients with complex/violent needs. These patients need stability. The Frank Lloyd Unit offers this as its staff are specially trained."

She added: "I know this woman. It was so sad to hear. Unfortunately, the retirement home could no longer care for her and as Frank Lloyd unit is not taking new patients she was moved to a specialist unit out of the area.

"This is madness to me. We have a specialist unit with all the facilities here but the CCG decides to close it because it says there is not a need?I suggest they should visit the care homes in Sittingbourne as I have. They will soon recognise there is a great need.

"There should be a public meeting called to discuss the closure of this home. I have more than 3,000 signatures on my Change.org petition to support this unit. If the CCG bothered to read the comments it would understand that the unit is an integral part of caring for people with complex dementia."

Cllr John Wright, Kent County Council member for Sittingbourne South said the CCG had postponed a meeting with Swale county councillors.

He said: "The week before, they cancelled this briefing stating that as there was an election called it would not be appropriate to hold the meeting due to purdah. I cannot understand this but I have asked for it to be reinstated as soon as the election is over. I am not happy."

Fellow county councillor Ken Pugh from Sheppey said: "I agree there is an urgent need for a special dementia unit such as the Frank Lloyd. I am frustrated that the CCG use purdah to avoid explaining themselves. We have a KCC Health and Overview Scrutiny on December 16 and I will try to get it on the agenda."

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