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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 14 August 2008
Provision for vulnerable people is still declining

• CAMDEN has one of the highest mental health need indices (MINI) in the country and one of the highest suicide rates.  
Once upon a time the local mental health services were well provided and there were good links with social care.It seems that these links are breaking down and the provision for vulnerable people with mental illness is now sparse and still declining.
The local provider began reducing bed numbers and stripping away services when it set out to become a foundation trust. 
This service reduction programme, called by them a cost improvement programme, helped them to gain the freedom from the NHS that they sought. 
However, it left a much depleted provision for people experiencing mental distress so much so that the foundation trust now has to buy beds in other trusts to meet its requirements.
Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust is a public benefit company, but it seems to offer little benefit to the public it serves so poorly. It has members who elect a board of governors but so far they have been able to make little change to the organisation, simply agreeing to reappoint the same chief executive and directors who presided over the erosion of mental health and social care to achieve its desired foundation trust status. 
It has a paid mental health champion in Councillor Kirsty Roberts but this appointment seems to have done little to improve matters for the cause she is supposed to be championing.
The new foundation trust is failing and will continue to fail so long as it looks inward at its corporate structure and only considers how many new directorates it may create and new managers it may appoint rather than looking outward at the needs of the local people suffering the effects of increasing social dislocation and financial hardship giving rise to even more mental-health problems.
The fact that it is currently consulting on a service user involvement strategy which is intended to make it look more responsive but in effect will reduce the influence of its service users and carers speaks volumes about this foundation trust,
Appearance is everything.
Haverstock Hill, NW3

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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