GPs back plans to permanently close Huntingdon’s mental health ward

A GROUP of Cambridgeshire GPs have come forward to support changes to Huntingdonshire’s mental health service despite outrage at proposals to shut the district’s only inpatient facility.

Dr David Irwin of Hunts Care Partners and a GP at Buckden Surgery, Dr John Richmond of Hunts Health and a GP at Rainbow Surgery, Ramsey and Dr Emma Tiffin of Priory Fields Surgery, Huntingdon are three of the county’s mental health leads backing plans to permanently close Acer Ward and transfer patients to the Cavell Centre in Peterborough instead.

Acer Ward was temporarily closed because of short shortages in September, and is earmarked to shut permanently next year as part of a �14million savings plan for the county’s mental health service.

At a consultation meeting held earlier this month to discuss the changes, former patients and their relatives condemned the loss of the ward and called for it to be re-opened.

But in a letter sent on Tuesday, all nine doctors defended the decision to close the 25-bed ward. They said the facility was ‘not of a suitable quality’ and that patients could not access the full range of treatments because it is not attached to a larger hospital.

The letter was also signed by Dr Simon Hambling of the Borders GP commissioning group, Dr Dee McCormack of East Cambridgeshire GP commissioning group, Dr Ray Webb, mental health lead for Wisbech, Dr Caroline Lea-Cox of CATCH and Cam Health, Dr Sohrab Panday, mental health lead for Peterborough, consultant psychiatrist Dr Manaan Kar-Ray, and Annette Newton, director of operations at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.