Mental health service cuts slammed

PUBLISHED: 11:53 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:06 06 May 2010

Michael Downing

Michael Downing

CUTS to mental health services contradict the Government s policy to do more in the community to take pressure off hospitals, according to an MP. Oliver Heald, MP for North East Herts, said cuts in community services, psychological services and early trea

CUTS to mental health services contradict the Government's policy to do more in the community to take pressure off hospitals, according to an MP.

Oliver Heald, MP for North East Herts, said cuts in community services, psychological services and early treatment of severe mental illness was "in direct contradiction to Government policy on early intervention and doing more in the community to take pressure off hard pressed mental health wards in hospitals".

He added: "Hertfordshire mental health sufferers and their families should not be the victims of Government financial chaos in the NHS. The Prime Minister cannot be proud of this attack on the most vulnerable in our society."

The proposed changes, by North Herts and Stevenage PCT, to Hertfordshire's mental health services will be discussed at a meeting of Hertfordshire county health scrutiny committee on May 17.

County councillor Bernard Lloyd, chairman of the county council's overview and scrutiny committee, said: "We are well aware of the financial situation facing the county's health services and the substantial savings that have to be made.

"What we must establish is whether the five per cent across the board reductions required in Hertfordshire are the best way of making these savings and whether the proposed reductions in mental health services are the right ones."

Representatives of the health service will be at the meeting on May 17 to explain the proposals and representatives of those who may be affected are invited to make verbal or written submissions giving their views.

Stevenage county councillor Michael Downing, chairman of the county health scrutiny committee, said: "Our remit is to consider whether these proposals are in the best interests of the delivery of health services across the county. If we conclude that they are not, we have the power to refer them to the Health Secretary so we want to be sure that sufficient account is taken of everyone's views.

"If people and organisations feel their views were not adequately taken into account during the decision making process, we want them to let us know."

* Those wishing to make submissions or presentations to the meeting (between three and five minutes of speaking time may be allocated) should let democratic services officer Laura Shewfelt know by phone on 01992 555565 or email laura.shewfelt@hertscc.gov.uk by next Wednesday (May 10).


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