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Camden New Journal - by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 22 March 2007
Mentally-ill patients to be released early

Fears £8m savings target will squeeze NHS services

MENTAL health patients will be released into the community earlier in a raft of cuts aiming to save £8million, it has emerged.
Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust (CIMH) is making sweeping money-saving changes because it is facing rising costs and mounting financial pressure from the NHS and Camden Primary Care Trust (PCT).
Following the closure of Jamestown Day Centre, Camden’s mental health patients are set to see the three-day hospitals Felix Brown, in the Royal Free, West Hampstead in Fordwych Road, and Jules Thorn in St Pancras Way, reduced to just two, with day places reduced from 85 to 65 and staff cut by seven.
Documents shown to the New Journal reveal plans to reduce the average length of stay from six months to three and a half, despite fears patients may not be well enough.
Patient Sinead O’Reilly predicted the closure of Fordwych Road would be disastrous.
Ms O’Reilly, who suffered a breakdown following the loss of her sister and mother, said: “Fordwych Road gave me the chance to get out of my psychotic state, a safe place with people I was familiar with.
“Merging the clinics will mean vulnerable patients will have to travel further.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult and frightening.”
Mental health chiefs are due to discuss the changes to the service in Camden today (Thursday).
And the cuts don’t stop there. There are fears Mornington Ward, a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in St Pancras Hospital, is also facing the axe.
The trust plans to withdraw three remaining wards from St Luke’s Hospital in Muswell Hill – the unit which treated serial killer Anthony Hardy – prompting fears the hospital will have to close.
Bloomsbury councillor Penny Abraham said the budget to be proposed at today’s meeting includes “sweeping and generalised statements about forthcoming cuts”, adding: “Once again, mental health services are the Cinderella service being cut before discussions have even been held with service-users.”
On plans to reduce the length of stay in acute services to enable the closure of some acute and PICU beds, Cllr Abraham said: “Service-users would value a chance to hear about this before it gets included in a budget. As we know, sending people home before they are completely well is a very bad idea.”
Camden Council has imposed a 2.5 per cent savings target as well as a 5 per cent saving on staff costs.
Cllr Abraham said talk of more effective use of Community Mental Health Teams means cuts in some teams, and expressed fears over the future of Tottenham Mews walk-in centre, which is due to be “reconfigured” and staff redeployed.
CIMHT Chairman David Taylor has blamed the PCT for the cuts, but said he did not believe anyone would be made redundant. He denied St Luke’s Hospital will close.
He said: “It’s the PCT making the savings, not the Trust. The whole of the NHS has got more money, but costs have gone up and PCTs are having to make adjustments.
“CIMHT is an organisation involving both councillors and others.
“The decisions are shared by the local authority and are in response to the PCTs. Mental health care is a national priority.
“We have to do the best we can with the resources available.”


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