Carers Raise Fears Over Unit Shake-Up

Fears are increasing among Halton carers that isolation and confusion will grow as a result of a shake-up of mental health services. Lack of independent advice and uncertainty over the future of professional services are among the their concerns.

Christine Jenkinson, 50, of Hough Green, is a carer for her husband who suffers from severe clinical de pression. She said: ‘We used to see Halton Citizens Advocacy when we needed support, but they closed in April last year when the local authority didn’t renew their funding.

‘The advocates would help us fill out forms and tell us our rights, they provided access to legal advice and accompanied us to official meetings. It’s very daunting when you’re sat at a table facing half a dozen professionals, now there’s nobody by our side.’

She added that she felt confused about changes to mental health provision in the area. ‘My husband used to attend the St John’s Unit in Widnes to see a specialist, but we received a letter saying it might be closing.’

Maria Austin, of the Five Boroughs Partnership Trust, said the unit is not being closed. She said: ‘The trust has developed a proposal to modernise mental health services called ‘Change for the Better’. This means services at the unit are being refocused and modernised, with the unit benefiting from the growth of other teams in specific areas of care.’