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Fernando | 08.12.2005 18:16 | Health | Repression | Social Struggles | Cambridge

Unison Cambridge Health campaign against NHS cuts
1pm Market Square, Cambridge

This is especially regarding the £3 million cutbacks in Mental Health in Cambridgeshire

Unison Cambridge Health campaign against NHS cuts

1pm Market Square, Cambridge

* Local health services are millions of pounds in the red, thanks to underfunding by the government
* This means that mental health services are being cut back right now, with ward closures at Fulbourn and reductions in other services
* These cuts not only hit the clients who need these services; they put extra pressure on local councils and on the community
* The scale of underfunding means that the cuts will not just be confined to mental health; already nearby hospitals such as Newmarket, Doddington and West Suffolk are closing down beds and wards

It’s time to fight back!

Letter to Cambridge Evening News

Dear Sir,

AS a group of consultant psychiatrists in Cambridge, we write about the severity of the cuts to mental health services in Cambridgeshire which are necessary because the Cambridge PCTs are passing on to mental health some of the deficit that has developed in their finances.

The scale of the cuts (10 per cent of the local budget) is so large and abrupt that we know that this action will limit the delivery of a safe, satisfactory service and place the patient, carers and the public at increased risk.

We are aware that we are not alone and that other trusts face large cuts to their mental health services. The deficit often lies with the commissioning trust which makes it impossible for the provider to prepare appropriately.

In our case the initial announcement was a withholding of £1 million this year (five per cent of our budget). Hard enough to manage, but within weeks the Strategic Health Authority demanded that the PCTs should withhold £2 million and save this by next April.

We are very concerned that there will be serious untoward incidents as a result of the recent decisions. Existing services are already stretched. Any reduction in services puts further pressure on what is left.

The proposed closures leave our service exposed and risk of suicide or violence is further increased if the measures are taken in such haste.

Many patients will be unable to get appropriate care as undoubtedly criteria for the service will rise and so access to the service will be more difficult and for shorter periods of time. Ultimately this will result in more responsibility being left with the family and general practitioners in primary care. Carers are becoming aware that more will fall on them with less support.

We are attempting to discern how we can protect what we have and manage what we must do without. Clinical care and risk are our top priority. We are opening a crisis resolution and home treatment team that had been planned for this year, but it will not balance the losses. In particular it cannot replace the inpatient services for the elderly which must go, and it is not aimed at the young people currently cared for by the young people's therapeutic community, a flagship service that will close if the cuts go ahead.

We are dismayed the Government seems unmoved by the situation. Millions extra have been poured into the NHS in the last few years. Who would have thought that cuts of this magnitude would be the outcome? For as a government interested in social inclusion it is astonishing that it allows mental health services to be jeopardised in this way.

In Cambridge we are told that we should make our views known through the consultation procedure. Yet we are also told that the PCTs have no choice, there is no bail-out, in fact there will be more cuts to come. Thus meaningful consultation is a fiction.

Few of our patients or their carers feel able to step up and demand services directly from Patricia Hewitt when they are ill. We must speak for them and we call for a halt to cuts to services and adequate funding for mental health.

Yours faithfully,

Consultant Psychiatrists: Dr H Berrios, Dr F Blake, Dr E Bullmore, Dr C Denman, Dr T Dening, Dr J Dowson, Dr N Elton, Dr P Fletcher, Dr D Girling, Professor I Goodyer, Dr C Gregory, Dr N Hunt, Dr N Hymas, Dr R Jacobs, Dr T Jaffa, Dr C Lawton, Dr M London, Dr P McKenna, Dr R Ramana, Dr H Ring, Dr J Shapleske, Dr Srinath Shankarnarayan, Dr M Stefan, Dr C Stephenson, Dr E Vithayathil, Dr C Walsh, Professor P Jones.

Dept of Psychiatry
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road



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02.11.2006 00:03

Nothing left for people like me.

Fergus Feeheny
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