Protest Staged Over Mental Health Cuts

Campaigners have staged a protest against cuts in mental health services. In the summer Flintshire Council closed the Ambrose Lloyd Centre in Mold, which provides care for people with mental health problems, along with day centres in Connah’s Quay and Holywell. The council has replaced them with five drop-in centres across the county, claiming reform of the service will provide greater independence.

But users of the services say they now feel isolated, with nowhere to go.

A group held a protest outside County Hall in Mold yesterday and accused the authority of robbing them of a lifeline. The day care services were available 15 hours a week and provided people with a place to learn skills, meet other patients and build friendships. In comparison, the weekly three -hour drop-in-centres have been described by users as being unwelcoming.

Protester Marie Davies said: “We warned them when they announced these closures that they wouldn’t work but they didn’t listen. They’ve completely failed us and I’ve been left with nothing. I can’t afford to spend money on trips, so the closure is creating poverty. The council said they were trying to promote independence, but they’ve actually created isolation.”

North Wales AM Mark Isherwood, who has been backing the patients’ campaign, attended yesterday’s meeting. He said: “It’s important now to push the concerns of health service users to front and ensure they have a real sense of ownership and control. They need to have voice. Although the council says it intends to listen to users in the future, I was concerned it didn’t address how the introduction of the new system was handled. I don’t believe the original consultation on these plans represented the number of users which objected to them.”

Flintshire Council says users were fully consulted throughout the process and continue to be involved in developing the service. A spokesman said: “A meeting was held yesterday with a small group from the Mold area and senior officers of Adult Social Care. A number of issues were raised by the Mold representatives and the officers responded to their concerns. It is recognised by all parties that changes to service delivery can be difficult and it is important to ensure that service users are involved in the process.

“Officers from Adult Social Care have offered numerous opportunities over many months to give service users all over Flintshire a say in how services are modernised. We will continue to involve service users in a range of ways. The most recent consultation event was held on November 29.”