Mum faces six-hour round trip to visit her mentally ill son
Man switched from Camden centre to Southend
Published: September 29, 2011
by TOM FOOT
A DISTRAUGHT mother is facing six-hour round trips to visit her mentally ill son after he was moved from a health unit in Camden to one in Southend.
Amelia Williams said the move has put an end to her daily visits to see 22-year-old Craig Redway, who has been diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia.
It is the latest case of individuals with mental health problems being moved significant distances away from their relatives.
The New Journal reported last year how Somers Town community campaigner Tom Costello was transferred to a unit away from friends and family in Northampton after being diagnosed with dementia.
Ms Williams had been going to see Craig in the Coral Ward in the Highgate Mental Health Centre every day.
But with just five days’ notice, he was transferred to St Andrew’s Hospital in Southend earlier this month.
The Essex hospital is part of a profit-making group used by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
Ms Williams said the journey – which costs around £40 each time – is “too much” for her.
“I cannot make that journey every day,” she said. “I feel so low. I feel like I’ve lost him forever – he will be lost in the system.”
Craig’s condition means he does not speak to consultants and rarely eats food unless his mother brings it for him.
Ms Williams said she was considering legal action against the Trust, who have insisted the move is in Craig’s best interests and claimed that “every patient who needs a bed will be provided with one”.
The move comes at a time of massive cutbacks in Camden with more than 100 beds for patients like Craig axed.
The cost of his care in Southend is estimated at between £2,000-£3,000 a month.
Craig was diagnosed with schizophrenia after spending three months in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.
He was sent there after breaching the terms of his anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) in 2005.
For six years, he has been injected with powerful anti-psychotic drugs.
The New Journal understands that far from being moved for the purpose of “rehabilitation”, he is being contained in a long-stay ward among elderly patients who are not expected to recover.
The practice of posting patients to costly private hospitals outside London and miles away from family members follows a decision to close three mental health hospitals in Camden.
A consultation on proposals to shut down the long-stay rehabilitation wards in St Luke’s Hospital in Muswell Hill, began last week.
A spokesman for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust said: “We guarantee that all our service users who need an inpatient bed are provided with one, and we make this as close to their home as we can.
“This may involve the use of specialist services, not provided within the borough, in which case the referral could be outside our borders.
“We are working hard with Mrs Williams, to help her access funds and grants to enable her to travel to support her son.”