£7.5m health funding cuts

PUBLISHED: 16:33 03 May 2007 | UPDATED: 21:40 29 May 2010

MENTAL health services in the area will lose out on £7.5 million, it was announced at a public meeting in Dunmow last week. At Foakes Hall Dr Richard Coleman, chief executive of the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust (NEMHPT), and Mike O Keeffe,

MENTAL health services in the area will lose out on £7.5 million, it was announced at a public meeting in Dunmow last week.

At Foakes Hall Dr Richard Coleman, chief executive of the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust (NEMHPT), and Mike O'Keeffe, director of Mental Health for the West Essex PCT, said the mental health trust would be getting £4 million less from Essex PCTs in 2007-09 as well as losing a further £3.5 million from the Herfordshire Partnership Trust.

At the meeting, organised by the Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPIF) for NEMHPT to gain public opinion, Mr O'Keeffe explained that the organisation of services can not remain the same as they are at the moment.

"One of the problems we have is that services are on too many sites, five in total, and the running costs of these were too high to be maintainable. Also the staff are spread too thinly.

"We need to develop a more effective infrastructure to form a coherent core. This core has to be one that can be expanded as additional resources allow," he said. He explained that changes also had to be made due to external factors.

"Hertfordshire has already withdrawn from having inpatients at the Derwent Centre at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. It then gave notice to NEMHPT that it was withdrawing its resources for older people's services.

"This would leave wards half empty and without the sufficient resources to run them."

One of the proposals was to create a centre of excellence for older people's services based at the Mental Health Unit at St Margaret's Hospital in Epping.

This unit would provide inpatient assessments for both dementia and other types of mental illnesses such as depression. In addition to this it would also offer day hospital services which will form the basis of outreach services across the whole of West Essex.

Tony Middleton, manager of the Uttlesford branch of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We would prefer for Kitwood Ward at the Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop's Stortford not to close because it is an excellent facility.

"We view this proposal favourably. Our main reservation is the distance patients will have to travel now is far greater than before.

"We would view an outsourcing of services to Uttlesford very favourably and there is a possibility of this being explored."

The consultation period ends on July 6. To make a comment call Debbie Offord on 0845 1204308.

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