THANK you for bringing into the public domain the closure of Acer Ward, a move that has been rumoured to be on the cards for months.
In my view, this represents an appalling cut in services for people across the Huntingdonshire area, both current mental health service users and carers and those who need to access acute services in the future.
As the concerned Hunts Post reader points out, two important ingredients to aid local people’s recovery from an acute episode of mental illness will be adversely affected by these plans: family and friends being able to visit and making first steps towards going home.
I read with apprehension of the restructure that CPFT’s chief executive sets out as a benefit to local people. The greater emphasis on home treatment, although displayed as a service improvement, appears to me not to be led by evidence-based best practice guidance or to meet what service users and carers say they want, but by one thing only: monetary value.
And while there may be enhanced staffing in Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s A&E department, if anyone assessed there does require admission to hospital, there will no longer be a ward on site to admit them to.
Acer was opened in 1994 so that people from the Huntingdon area would not have to go to Cambridge or Peterborough to access inpatient services, and its closure only returns the service to this unsatisfactory and inequitable situation.
Nearly 12 years on from my first admission and five years since my last prolonged stay on the ward, I acknowledge the key part the care and support I received at Acer has played in my own recovery from mental ill-health. I cannot begin to contemplate how I might be, or even if I’d still be here, had the ward not been there as my ‘safe haven from the storms’. I’m sure mine is only one voice of many waiting to be heard on this issue and I would encourage everyone to have their say when the public consultation finally opens.
Whether you have an experience of needing to access mental health services or not, with one in four people suffering from mental health problems at some point in their lives, you never know when it might be you, or someone close to you, who requires them.