An internationally-renowned mental health hospital in Sutton is set to close.

The future of Henderson Hospital will be discussed today at a board meeting after its owners South West London and St George's Mental Heath NHS Trust claimed a lack of funds was threatening its future.

Established in 1947, the hospital cares for people with personality disorders through a mixture of inpatient and outreach work. The hospital has 29 beds and is run by a team of 39 staff.

An insider said everyone at the facility was devastated.

She said: "When they told us, everyone was upset. We have gone through a few rocky roads in the past but nothing like this.

"The nurses just kept asking what will happen to the patients - not once did they ask about themselves, about their mortgages, their families, their lives. It was very touching."

The trust's chief executive Peter Houghton confirmed closure was on the cards.

He said: "Regional and local commissioners have not renewed their funding for next year. This means that the Henderson does not have secure income.

"With no guaranteed income and an expected reduction in referrals, the trust can no longer afford to subsidise the hospital at the expense of other services.

"Furthermore, the therapeutic community' model provided by the Henderson relies on a minimum number of residents always being present in order to work properly and this number cannot be guaranteed.

"For these reasons, the trust has reluctantly decided to propose that the Henderson be closed."

Mr Houghton said the hospital would work to secure alternative places for residents requiring ongoing care and support staff were possible.

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow called the move "short sighted and penny pinching".

He said: "In less than a year the Henderson has gone from having a sustainable future to being earmarked for closure.

"Therapeutic services like those offered by the Henderson are scarce in the NHS. They make a real difference to people with personality disorders. It lets down some of the most vulnerable people in our community."

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