Mental health patients need support of families and friends

I FELT compelled to write to you concerning the article, Mental health team returns (February 15) concerning the closure of Acer Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and the care team moving back to the Newton Centre in Huntingdon.

Although this move to bring back carers to the local people needing mental healthcare is a welcome one, and the feedback from the public, local service users and GPs that there was a need for local services based in Huntingdon was acknowledged and acted upon, I still feel a tremendous amount of naivety in the comment made by Denise Hone claiming that this move was “a great opportunity to improve the local support for individuals needing to access support in Huntingdon and the surrounding areas.”

It may be an improvement on the current situation, but will never be a substitute of having a locally-based ward that provides 24-hour care to vulnerable patients.

There is a population in Huntingdon of approximately 22,280 and St Ives, Ramsey and St. Neots have a combined population of approximately 51,880 (according to estimates made by Huntingdonshire District Council, these figures only account for market towns without taking into consideration the many surrounding villages). How anyone can possibly argue with figures like these that there is not a need for a local ward that can supply much needed acute care is beyond me.

Mental health patients’ needs still appear not to be a priority, and what is essentially a financial cutback is being hidden under a guise of ‘improved services.’

By moving the inpatient care to the Cavell Centre in Peterborough, family and friends of patients will still find it difficult to visit patients as the centre is located outside the city centre. Without these visits that are known to be a vital factor regarding the first steps of patient recovery and going home.

Isn’t it about time that people were put before financial decisions and given the proper care they need and deserve? So many people with mental health illnesses do not have the voice to speak out against these types of decisions. I for one will be giving campaigners trying to keep Acer Ward open my full support.

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