Care Trust Set To Slash Mental Health Services

Mental health services across Milton Keynes will be cut by £1.4 million. The announcement was made at the board meeting of the Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust. The PCT board accepted the recommendations made in a review by national mental health charity the Sainsbury Centre. It includes cuts to drug and alcohol services, the memory screening clinic and the closure of the Fraser Day Hospital in Newport Pagnell.

Mark Lancaster, Conservative MP for North East Milton Keynes, said: “The government can dress it up anyway they want, but forcing Milton Keynes PCT to ‘save’ £1.4 million in my book is the same as a cut of £1.4 million for Milton Keynes healthcare, and this is completely unacceptable.” He added: “I simply cannot understand why, at a time when the government is forcing the city to expand, it is determined to cut its health services and all as a result of the government’s own incompetence.

“Be it dentistry, mental health services, or the closure of the Fraser Day Hospital, enough really is enough and I for one intend to fight these cuts all the way.” In July People’s Voices – an independent group working to ensure service users are listened to – handed over a 250 signature petition at the House of Commons opposing the cuts.

They feared the cuts would mean day services will not develop as planned under guidelines set out in a 2005 audit report by national charity Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Following the confirmation that the cuts would take place a spokesman for People’s Voices, said: “It remains our view, and one that we have shared with MK Council and both local MPs, that further cuts in the mental health service will lead to an unsafe service and not meet the needs of those using services or those supporting them in the community.”

Cllr Donald Hoyle, Conservative spokesman for health, added: “Conservatives in MK were extremely disappointed with the decision of Milton Keynes PCT to cut mental health services, which means that a particularly vulnerable section of our community will bear the full burden of these cuts.

“However, we fully sympathise with the PCT for being put under such considerable pressure by this government.” Neil Hayes, spokesman for the PCT, said: “Some services are being reconfigured. More services are going out into the community – that is a way of making savings.

“We are in a difficult situation, there is no doubt about that.” Dr Phyllis Starkey, MP for Milton Keynes South West said: “The government has provided a huge increase in funding to the NHS in Milton Keynes.

However, I don’t think £1.4m is the correct figure to apply to mental health services savings – the £1.4m quoted presumably includes the Fraser Day Hospital as well as mental health services. I think the reordering of the Fraser Day Hospital services will actually provide a better service for patients.

“I do not think the PCT should have found savings from mental health services. I will continue to press it to implement in full the recommendations of the independent review of mental health services in Milton Keynes by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.”