Cuts could prove fatal’ claims patient group

PUBLISHED: 12:29 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

CUTS to mental health services have been slammed as potentially fatal by a patient group. Members of a Patient and Public Involvement Forum have hit out at Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority s (SHA) plans to make savings by reducin

CUTS to mental health services have been slammed as potentially fatal by a patient group.

Members of a Patient and Public Involvement Forum have hit out at Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority's (SHA) plans to make savings by reducing mental health services.

The SHA wants all NHS Trusts in Hertfordshire to make savings to recover a deficit of at least £100 million in the local health economy.

But David Grayson, chairman of the Hertfordshire Partnership Patient and Public Involvement Forum, told The Comet the plans will increase the risk to patients, staff and the public.

He said: "We believe that these reductions in services represent short-term financial gains which will inevitably transfer into longer term impacts on the service users themselves, carers, families, the community and the economy because of the failure to treat mental health effectively at an early stage."

He said: "These cuts will increase the suffering of service users and their carers who will face increased risk of suicide and self harm, longer recovery time, higher relapse rates and a greater reliance on carers who, due to their role, are already more susceptible to mental health problems.

"We also believe the risk of harm to patients, staff and to the public at large has not been fully evaluated and should be a prime concern to all."

The forum is urging people concerned with the cuts to mental health services to contact their local MP.

North Herts and Stevenage Primary Care Trust (PCT) has started a public consultation to seek local opinion on proposed reductions to mental health services.

A spokesman for the PCT said: "Although the NHS has received unprecedented levels of funding in the last few years, the demands placed on it have increased at a higher rate. As a result more money has been spent than received. Although this overspend is reducing, PCTs have identified the areas where costs need to be reduced across the whole of the health service including mental health expenditure."

o North Herts and Stevenage Primary Care Trust's consultation concludes on Wednesday, May 3. You can find out more about the proposed changes by visiting the PCT website at www.nhst-pct.nhs.uk

o A public meeting about the changes will be held on Wednesday, April 26, from 3.30-5pm at the North Herts and Stevenage PCT offices in Solutions House, Dunhams Lane, Letchworth.


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