‘Victory’ In Clinic Fight

An appeal to stop the closure of a 24-hour mental health clinic has gone to the Secretary of State for Health. South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) proposed to shut the centre at the Maudsley Hospital as part of cost-cutting measures. For two years campaigners have tried to save the clinic in Denmark Hill – believed to be the only one of its kind in the country. But in a final effort to stop the closure, the 10 councillors making up Lambeth and Southwark’s health scrutiny committee have agreed unanimously to hand the decision to Patricia Hewitt.

Chairman of the committee Cllr Angela Meader said: “We have asked several times for a better response from SLaM. They just did not address our concerns for offering mental health services.”

She believed the Government was looking at drop-in centres for the mentally ill.

Cllr Meader said: “It’s ridiculous if they get rid of this clinic that has been around for about 50 years. The Maudsley is a unique facility. It has a specific service not offered anywhere else.”

The scrutiny committee – specifically set up to scrutinise SLaM’s review of its mental health crisis services – decided care in the community was not adequate to cope if the clinic closed. They also agreed with campaigners’ concerns that A&E wards were not appropriate places for mental health patients in a crisis.

Campaigners are worried more people would self-harm if the clinic closed, and it could be distressing for other emergency patients waiting in A&E.

Teresa Priest, from mental health group MIND in Southwark, said: “We are really pleased. Obviously there is still a battle ahead to save the clinic.But it is a major victory in the campaign, and for common sense.”

The plans are part of cost-cutting measures to cope with a drop in funding of £8million over the next two years from Southwark and Lambeth PCTs.