The Bungalow: Trust's CEO responds to criticism

HONITON Senior Council has written to the chief executive of Devon Partnership NHS Trust to request that The Bungalow is urgently re-opened .

HONITON Senior Council has written to the chief executive of Devon Partnership NHS Trust to request that The Bungalow is "urgently re-opened".

Tony Simpson, the council's secretary, told Iain Tulley in the letter: "In our view, there is a growing need for the services provided.

"We understand that patients are currently being transferred to other units or being offered domiciliary care.

"We are receiving reports of concern and hardship arising from these changes, and would ask for adequate consultation before any decision is made."

Mr Simpson added: "We were under the impression your Trust had agreed to consult senior councils on such matters, but had not received any such approach.

"You will know that concern has also been expressed by Honiton GPs and town councillors, which we share."

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Meanwhile, town councillor Alf Boom has secured a meeting with Mr Tulley. It is due to take place in Exeter next month. Dr David Rampersad will accompany Mr Boom, along with former Bungalow worker Heather Penwarden and Councillor Vernon Whitlock.

Councillor Boom claims 13 beds at Ottery St Mary Hospital are currently being taken up by dementia sufferers while The Bungalow is closed.

The senior council is seeking to quantify the number of people affected by The Bungalow's temporary closure.

It has asked Mr Tulley to provide the figures and has also written to Dr David Ward, seeking a broader insight into the effect of the closure.

Mr Simpson concluded his letter to Dr Ward by stating: "May I take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues for your outspoken concern on this issue?

"We sincerely hope that, together with the town council and other bodies, we can ensure a continuation of services at The Bungalow."

Members of Honiton Senior Council attended a conference on dementia care earlier this year, and have raised funds for the Alzheimer's Society and Dementia Care.

Mr Tulley told the Herald: "I fully understand the concern of local people about the future of their services and I actively welcome the opportunity for a public debate about the challenges facing all of us in providing better services for older people with mental health needs. It is a subject that gets far too little attention.

"The challenge in Honiton, and across the county, is very simple. We have a rapidly expanding population of older people with an ever-increasing level of need for services. By 2021, around one person in nine over 65 in Devon will have dementia, and many others will have other mental illnesses requiring specialist help and support. We have to put plans in place to meet the needs of this growing number of people - and do it within the limited resources at our disposal.

"We know we can't achieve this by leaving things as they are. We won't be able to provide care for all the people who need it, and we won't be able to provide the right type of care either. By this, I mean proper early intervention and care planning for people with dementia, robust crisis and home treatment services when people need them and high quality support for carers. We also know that we will always need hospital beds - in safe, modern environments - for a very small number of severely unwell people.

"In achieving the right balance between hospital and community services, we will need to work with local communities to make some important and, sometimes, difficult decisions. We face some very real challenges, particularly in the current economic climate, and want to work with local people to design the best possible services for older people with mental health needs.