Baroness Janet Whitaker battles for mental health service

Baroness Janet Whitaker

Peer to raise concern over closure of centres

Published: September 15, 2011

BARONESS Janet Whitaker is preparing to take the fight to save Camden’s mental health service to the House of Lords.

The Labour peer, a former magistrate, chair­woman of Working Men’s College in Mornington Crescent and non-executive director of the Tavistock and Portman Trust, met with fellow lords at a planning meeting yesterday (Wednesday).

Baroness Whitaker said she would raise concerns over the closure of Camden’s mental health hospitals, day centres and NHS staff cuts when the government’s health service reforms are debated in a crucial second reading in the House of Lords on October 11.

Her intervention follows a series of major decisions and proposals in the mental health services including the closure of the Grove Centre and Queen Mary House in Hampstead, axing 100 inpatient beds, and stripping the mentally ill of their Freedom Passes.

Camden Council wants to close four health centres and build a large centre in Greenwood Place, Kentish Town, by 2014.

Tony Fisher, chairman of the Camden Mental Health User Involvement Service, said the closure of Highgate Day Centre would be “a disgraceful waste of tax-payers’ money” as it was recently “completely redesigned and decorated to a first-class standard”.

In a response to Mr Fisher, Camden Council spokesman said: “The reason the Highgate Centre will have to move while the building work is taking place is financial. The council and foundation trust will work very closely with people who attend the centre to find alternative accommodation and support them through the process. I would like to emphasise this is just a proposal at the moment.”

Camden Council has begun a series of 28 public meetings across the borough as part of a wide-ranging consultation ending on December 5.

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