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NHS cuts branded an 'utter disaster'
MORE suicide attempts, a surge in anti-depressant usage and pressure on the NHS will spiral under cuts to a mental health service, it has been warned.
A report sent by Yvonne Taylor, the chief operating officer of Oxford Health, that has been leaked to the Oxford Mail, states that cuts to funding in the county will see a “huge reduction” in support for 700 people with personality disorders.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, above, said the “savage and damaging” cuts would be an “utter disaster” for Oxfordshire. Currently, the service which was set up in 2004 helps people with long-term emotionalor mental health issues every year through group therapy sessions.
The Department of Health paid the £700,000-a-year costs until April. Then it halved funding for the current 12 months, with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) putting in £250,000, leaving a £100,000 shortfall. As yet there is no funding guaranteed for the service to continue beyond April 2015.
As reported in the Oxford Mail in May the Government said this 10-year-old scheme was only planned as a pilot and that future funding would be a decision for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) which makes most of the county’s NHS funding decisions.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – which provides the service– made its warnings in a paper to the OCCG, released under the Freedom of Information Act.
If it is successful in getting £250,000 from the OCCG for April 2015 on, it said just 230 people would be seen annually with the remaining 470 “on a lengthy waiting list” and it would not accept those who refer themselves.
It warned of 1,200 “suicidal acts” of self harm, with 168 suicide attempts “leading to an increased impact on A&E and out of hours services”.
There would be an extra 3,000 times when people would seek emergency help at A&E, via NHS 111 phone service or A&E, it warned.
The paper, sent by chief operating officer Yvonne Taylor, also predicted an extra £65,000 in GP psychiatric drug costs. Anti-depressants cost the county £1.3m in 2012/13.
And it said those unable to get help from the service – set up in 2004 – would see their GP five times as often as others, about an extra 1,500 visits.
When asked, Oxford Health would not clarify the figures further.
Just £250,000 would mean high intensity sessions three days a week in Oxford would fall to one medium intensive session, twice a week, the report said.
Once-a-week medium intensity sessions in Banbury, Witney and Wallingford would close and full time roles would fall from 12 to four.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “This is one of the most savage and damaging cuts Oxfordshire has faced in recent years, and would be an utter disaster for the county.
“This is a particularly acute example of the financial crisis now threatening our local health services.”
Richard Colwill, spokesman for the mental health charity SANE said: “We fear that the loss of this service can only lead to more people being turned away from help, or falling through the cracks between services when they are at their most desperate.”
Healthwatch Oxfordshire vice chairman Dermot Roaf added: “We are concerned because, in general, mental health doesn’t have enough money anyway. Two-thirds of the service being cut is too much.”
A joint statement from the two health authorities said both agreed more work needs to be done but would not release details.
It said: “The needs of people living with personality disorder are a priority for both OCCG and Oxford Health. The two organisations are working together to develop a model that will reflect best practice and deliver good outcomes.
“The further analysis that is being undertaken means that OCCG and Oxford Health are not yet in a position to set out a draft model for wider discussion.”
Previously in a joint statement the authorities said “the needs of people living with personality disorders are a priority for OCCG and Oxford Health.”
A consultation is expected from next Friday.
April letter from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer Yvonne Taylor to OCCG interim chief operating officer Regina Shakespeare:
“Commissioners [OCCG] have informed the trust that they do not wish to commission a specialist complex needs services but rather would like the trust to simply manage this client group through adult mental health teams with no funding.
“This has cost shunted a financial pressure of £700,000 on to the trust [Oxford Health] without public openness on the part of commissioners that a service valued by service users, carers and partners is being decommissioned with nothing to replace it.”
June paper sent by Oxford Health to OCCG:
“The impact of this proposed reduction in capacity will inevitably fall on GPs, A&E departments, police and ambulance and on adult mental health teams.
“Many patients do not have independent transport and a significant proportion report they would be unable to access treatment in Oxford, estimate 30 per cent.
“An increase of 1,200 additional suicidal acts, 14 per cent of which are suicide attempts leading to an increased impact on A&E and out of hours services.”
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