- Tavistock Children’s Day Unit treats vulnerable children under 16
- NHS Trust planning to relocate unit to rear of nearby Portman Clinic
- One of the few places in the country to offer treatment for paedophiles
- ”It is tantamount to trying to treat alcoholics in a brewery,’ therapist says
- Hospital denies the new location will put children at risk
Senior doctors have expressed outrage at an NHS Trust’s plans to move a unit which treats vulnerable children to just metres away from a paedophile therapy centre.
The Tavistock Children’s Day Unit, currently located in Gloucester House in Hampstead, north London, treats children up to the age of 16 with mental health problems including specialist services for those who have suffered trauma or have special educational needs.
But Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust is giving serious consideration to building a new unit for the children in the gardens of the nearby Portman Clinic, the Camden New Journal reports.
Hospital bosses are considering relocating this children’s unit in north London to within a few metres of a clinic which treats paedophiles
It is one of the only places in the country where paedophiles can receive treatment on the NHS. Patients, who refer themselves voluntarily, are given ‘forensic psychotherapy’ in a bid to restrict their urges.
The possible relocation of the children’s unit has been met with disbelief by some clinicians.
One therapist, who asked not to be named, told the Camden New Journal: ‘This is very disturbing indeed – it is tantamount to trying to treat alcoholics in a brewery.’
The therapist claimed that the move is particularly dangerous because group therapy sessions for paedophiles are held in a room which looks out directly into the garden.
The source claimed that paedophiles could potentially be asked to talk about their fantasies while children are running around just metres away.
However this claim has been denied by the Trust which insists the new unit would be self-contained and there would be no direct access from the Portman Clinic.
Donald Campbell, a former consultant psychotherapist and former chair of the Portman Clinic, was among those to express concern.
He said moving the unit into the Portman Clinic gardens could ‘unwittingly put children at risk’.
The Trust’s chief executive Dr Matthew Patrick said the plans to move the unit had not yet been finalised, but insisted the proposed new site would not put children at risk.
A spokesman for the Trust said: ‘We would, of course, do nothing that endangered or disturbed our patients and we take our responsibilities very seriously.
‘Our record for safety and quality has been acknowledged over many years by a wide range of official inspectors as well as by the health and local authorities which commission our services, and by our patients themselves.
‘All the patients that we see here are living and being treated within the community. We have robust safeguarding and reporting measures, and work closely with partner organisations, to ensure the safe management of all our patients in the community. The Portman Clinic has a long, established history of successful treatment with its patients that attend the clinic.
‘We fully risk-assess every activity that takes place in the Trust and as part of our planning we have conducted a full risk assessment on the potential new build.
‘We do not currently perceive this potential move to pose any significant risk to anyone that we see.
‘We have safely managed children, adult and forensic services for many years and will continue to do so. Both the Day Unit, the Tavistock Centre and the Portman Clinic have their own rigorous internal
safeguarding policies and procedures and we would expect, as with any other matters, any concerns.’