Tears For Mental Health Service Cuts

There were tears from members of the public after health officials confirmed plans to make significant cuts to mental health and learning disability services. At a meeting yesterday, the board of the new Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust approved changes to save £2.7m and help balance the trust’s books.

The new trust started life on October 1 with a deficit of £44.9m and the changes are part of a financial recovery plan to ensure it breaks even during the next financial year.

The trust received more than 500 written responses from patients, members of the public, healthcare staff and local agencies and organisations during the 12-week public consultation on eight proposed changes to mental health and learning disability services
But despite an emotional meeting yesterday where protesters carried plaques saying “cuts for mental health and learning disability services – it’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s immoral and cruel – so don’t do it”, the trust decided to go ahead with a number of reductions to services.

Other changes were recommended by the trust to the Healthier Communities and Older Persons Board meeting on Thursday, October 26.

Trust chairman Sir Richard Tilt said: “These reductions are not intended as an attack on mental health services and the decision to make these changes has not been easy.

“The simple fact is that the trust has an acute financial problem and must reduce expenditure this year to balance our budgets.

“The sooner the trust regains financial stability, the sooner we will be able to restart investment in mental health and learning disability services.”

But Chris Kinsey from the Save Our Services campaign, who cares for her daughter, said closing day centres would lead to more suicides.

She said: “Closing day centres will lead to greater isolation for mental health patients.

“I can’t leave my daughter at home because she’ll burn the house down, I’ve cared for her for 34 years and I’m worried that in another few years I’m going to hate her.

“Sometimes I think it would be better if me and my daughter took a pill then we’d be no problem to you.”

Her views were echoed by member of Mind Sue Scott-Hunter.

She said: “A lot of people will suffer from these changes quite severely and the suicide rate will increase.”

County councillor Rupert Reichhold welcomed the approval to keep Oundle Day Hospital open.

He said: “I’m relieved. No day hospital should be closed until the trust has the clinical mental health team fully up to strength.

“However, I’m shocked and horrified they are still proposing to close Haddon House in Daventry and I’m in contact with MP Tim Boswell to try to persuade Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to reverse the trust’s decision.”

At the meeting the board also confirmed its support for the development of new mental health facilities on the Princess Marine Hospital site in Northampton.

The £33m scheme will provide 125 inpatient places for adults and older people with mental health problems.