Mental health beds cut despite protests

Controversial reforms in mental health have been approved in a bid to save £14 million – despite opposition from health groups.

Almost two-thirds of Cambridgeshire’s mental health inpatient beds will be slashed under the plans which aim to “transform” care by treating more patients in the community.

The changes spell the end of the James older people’s ward at Addenbrooke’s and also Acer adult acute ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon and Cobwebs in Cambridge, both of which have both already been closed by the health trust.

It would also see a cut in rehabilitation beds at Lucille van Geest Centre in Peterborough.

During a 13-week public consultation, mental health trust NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough received feedback from 21 health organisations – many of them raised concerns about the closure of wards.

Little Paxton Parish Council, near St Neots, was against the reforms, saying patients, carers and relatives would be forced to travel big distances to appointments in either Cambridge or Peterborough.

Carers said it seemed a “farce” leaving Huntingdonshire without a mental health ward.

The county’s Rethink Carers groups said the sudden closure of Acer Ward and Cobwebs in Cambridge during the consultation process did not “instil confidence in the process” and the “drastic reduction of rehabilitation beds will deny patients the chance of recovery and social inclusion”.

Members of the health trust’s board told the meeting Acer Ward was forced to close following an inspection in which it was declared unfit for purpose. Board members admitted they had some concerns about the changes.

Dr Simon Hambling said: “We will ensure through our ongoing work with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust both formally and informally that the services are fit for purpose.

“I think it is fair to state that what is being proposed we are not entirely happy with.”

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