New status for health trust

SPECIALIST services for people who suffer from mental illnesses could be expanded, allowing patients to be treated closer to home. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust plans to become a foundation trust by April. The sta

SPECIALIST services for people who suffer from mental illnesses could be expanded, allowing patients to be treated closer to home.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust plans to become a foundation trust by April. The status would not only provide a new way of working with patients and the voluntary sector, but would also allow services to be expanded.

The trust has been given the all-clear by the East of England Strategic Health Authority to proceed with the plans, and a consultation process has started.

Part of the push for foundation status is gaining 7,500 members. They will then elect a members' council which will be involved in the trust's decision-making process.

Speaking at a consultation meeting in Huntingdon last Wednesday, former Labour MP for Cambridge, Anne Campbell, said the foundation status offered more freedom to the trust and the chance to tap into the expertise on offer in the voluntary sector.

Mrs Campbell added that the trust also hoped to expand its specialist services so that people did not have to travel so far for treatment.

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"One of a foundation trust's big strengths is being able to reach out to a wider community. Mental health can be stigmatised and people who suffer from mental illness can be isolated. We want to talk to more people, more of the time," she said.

"One in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives, either by being ill ourselves or through a friend or someone in the family being ill."

People who become members would receive regular newsletters and updates. They could also take part in decisions on particular aspects of mental health, and attend meetings.

The trust is keen to get more young people involved and is inviting children to become members, as well as patients, staff and the general public.

The members' panel will be made up of 15 public members, three of the mental health trust staff and 15 members of partnership bodies, such as the police, prison service or local councils.

The consultation continues until September 21 and views are being sought on a range of issues.

INFORMATION: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Partnership provides services for children, teenagers, adults, older people, people on drugs and those with learning disabilities as well as forensic psychiatric services.

To take part in the consultation or for details of how to become a member, call Diana Jakubowska on 01480 398689 or e-mail Diana.jakubowska

@cambsmh.nhs.uk or see application forms on www.cambsmh.nhs.uk

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