Mental health cuts concerns
PROPOSED cuts to mental health services in Hertford-shire will have a devastating effect on patients, carers and staff, according to local charities. Hertfordshire Partner-ship NHS Trust has been asked to cut £5million from its budget to pay for debts i
PROPOSED cuts to mental health services in Hertford-shire will have a devastating effect on patients, carers and staff, according to local charities.
Hertfordshire Partner-ship NHS Trust has been asked to cut £5million from its budget to pay for debts in other services.
If plans, now being decided by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, go ahead there will be a reduction in the number of community mental health team services in the county.
Viewpoint, Carers in Hertfordshire and MIND are all opposed to the cuts as is Herts County Council's health scrutiny committee.
Sally Newton, executive member for adult care services, said: "We feel it would be a retrograde step to make cuts in mental health spending at a time when the number of people suffering mental health problems is increasing.
"We are really concerned about the domino affect these planned changes could have. They are really big issues which need to be taken up at the highest possible level."
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A spokesman for charity Viewpoint, which aims to improve mental health services, said the cuts would increase the risk of self harm, suicide and harm to others.
He said: "If the cuts go ahead, there is no doubt that clients and carers will suffer significantly and the financial burden will increase in the long term."
Sue Reeve, chief executive of Carers in Hertfordshire, said the cuts, to both community and in-patient services, would affect their charity - which provides support to carers.
She said: "The physical and emotional stress of providing unpaid care can be profound - it is impossible to put a price on a good night's sleep or the value of a small break for a family coping with a relative who has an illness such as dementia or schizophrenia. What alleviates the challenges are the respite breaks and day-to-day support which help carers.
"More money has been put into mental health services, but demand has increased so these proposals will mean cuts to services. With such drastic proposals many carers could lose essential support and this could lead to a situation where carers reach breaking point."
A Herts County Council spokesman said: "The scrutiny committee felt there was not a proven case for the proposed cuts to go through.
"Therefore the proposals have been referred to the Secretary of State for Health.
"She may ask the involved parties to resolve the issues themselves or an independent public meeting may be held.
"The scrutiny committee did leave it open so the PCT could come back if they resolve the committee's concerns. If this happened the committee would withdraw their referral to the Secretary of State but she may still carry out her own investigation. It is ultimately up to the secretary of state what happens next.