OXFORDSHIRE county councillors have been warned that plans to slash funding for the county's mental health services by £1.6m would have 'devastating consequences'.

In an open letter published this week the county's NHS and charity leaders have said Oxfordshire's most vulnerable will be left without access to vital support if the cuts are approved.

The council is proposing to cut its overall contribution to NHS mental health services from £8m to £6.4m by 2022.

Council bosses have argued that the money will be reinvested to meet a rising demand in services for adults with special educational needs and to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect.

However, the leaders of the six organisations which make up the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership have penned the open letter urging county councillors vote against the cuts.

The letter, signed by the CEO of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, as well as leaders of mental health charities Oxfordshire Mind, Restore, Elmore Community Services, Connection Support and Response, claims the cuts would be the breaking point for many of those struggling with mental ill health in the county.

The letter states: "It is false to believe that we can tighten our belts further. We have made every cut we can possibly make in every area of our operations. Our staff soldier on with dedication, but struggle daily with diminishing resources.

"You cannot make an efficient service more efficient by imposing further cuts."

The calls for the proposals to be voted down have been backed by representatives of the British Medical Association (BMA) trade union.

BMA national mental health lead Andrew Molodynski, who works as a consultant psychiatrist in Oxford, said the 'swingeing cuts' would mean many with severe mental illnesses, who are often at risk to themselves, will no longer be able to get support.

He added: "The fact that there has been little if any planning means that OCC is playing a dangerous game with the safety of many of our most vulnerable residents- neighbours, friends, family members.

“It is nothing short of shameful in this day and age."

A county council spokesman said the local authority was committed to working with the mental health partnership and people who use the services in order to work out how necessary savings can be delivered effectively and with the least impact on people who use services.

The spokesman added: "As in much of the county local government in Oxfordshire is facing unprecedented budget challenges, impacted further by growing demand for our key service areas.

"Oxfordshire County Council is also investing around £5m extra each year in adult social care to cater for the increased numbers and complexity of people accessing adult social care services due to population growth and people living longer."

Residents can currently give their feedback on the council's budget proposals before Sunday by visiting https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/BudgetConsultation2019_20/consultationHome

Councillors will vote on the proposed cuts later this month.