CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mental health services in the borough face a new threat of cuts

01 December, 2017

North Camden Acute Day Centre in Belsize Park

• AFTER years of savage cuts to Camden’s mental health services, it is a wonder that Camden Council and our local National Health Service bosses can find anything left to cut.

Yet here we are again. Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCCG) is now proposing to axe the North Camden Acute Day Centre at Daleham Gardens, NW3 in a desperate bid to save cash. The move would leave just one NHS day unit for the whole borough, currently situated at the Jules Thorn South Camden Day Unit at St Pancras Hospital, NW1.

Oddly, the CCCG’s consultation document has edited the full names of the two units to omit the words “North” and “South”. This obscures the consequence that the north of the borough will be deprived of a local service.

Another oddity is that the consultation is run by the commissioners, rather than the more usual practice of the service provider doing so. Having the Camden & Islington Foundation Trust propose these cuts would, of course, provide some badly missing context.

Readers will no doubt recall that Camden & Islington cut 100 hospital beds in 2011 on the basis that community services would be maintained. The latest proposals seem to renege on that promise.

Although the accompanying response form provides a tick-box to reject closing either the north or south units, it is contradicted by the consultation document which only gives an option to close one of the two. Withholding an option of “no change” breaches government guidance and means that, effectively, the CCCG has already made a decision to close one of the two units.

Both units currently provide a medically supervised day service Monday to Friday for some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. The CCCG claim that the Daleham Gardens unit is underused but provides no figures to back this up. We have to suspect that the lack of patients is a recent occurrence being used selectively to justify cuts.

The CCCG have also been rifling through patients’ records in order to show that many existing patients at both day units can be shunted elsewhere because they are not “acute”. But “acute” in mental health care is subjective. It is not a characteristic of the patient but a way of differentiating services.

If you oppose this measure, respond to the consultation and contact your local councillor. The consultation runs until January 10.

Details can be found at http://bit.ly/2zKAmdb

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