A DEMENTIA patient is being moved more than 50 miles away from her family to receive treatment in Benfleet - and more patients could be forced to follow.

A dementia unit at a hospital in Kent is facing closure, with campaigners revealing that it is not accepting any new patients.

As a result, a patient has been sent to Benfleet instead.

At least one patient is being moved to Benfleet, but Swale Clinical Commissioning Group has refused to say which home, and whether more patients will be moved if the closure goes ahead.

The Swale group were contacted by the Echo on Friday in an attempt to gain more information, but they failed to respond.

The Frank Lloyd Unit, at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital, is dedicated to looking after the area’s violent dementia patients.

Campaigners say it has already had its 40 beds stripped to eight, with plans being considered to shut it completely in 2020.

And it has been claimed the closest appropriate facility is in Benfleet, more than an hours drive away.

It is unclear whether current patients at the unit will also be sent to Benfleet for care if it closes.

Campaigner Denise Petro, 72, has insisted the unit must stay open and patients should not be moved.

She said: “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?”

A spokesperson from Swale Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The Frank Lloyd Unit in Sittingbourne is a continuing health care inpatient unit providing care and treatment for patients with advanced dementia who have very specialist needs.

"Once a patient’s needs have stabilised, they are usually discharged to a residential or nursing home that will continue their care.

"This means that the numbers who are being cared for in the unit can fluctuate although the funding available has not been reduced."

The spokesman added: "The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Groups, working with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, intend to commence a process of wider engagement on the introduction of a new model of care for patients with extreme dementia, and formal consultation.

"However, in the period of time immediately before elections, specific restrictions are placed on the use of public resources and communications activities of public bodies, including NHS organisations, and therefore our engagement activities with wider stakeholders - including families and carers - will be resumed after this period has ended.