U-turn on Huntingdon’s mental health home treatment service following protest

CAMPAIGNERS are claiming a victory in their bid to restore mental health services to Huntingdonshire following the closure of the district’s only in-patient facility last year.

It was revealed by The Hunts Post last year that as well as the ‘temporary’ closure of the 18-bed Acer Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, the area’s crisis resolution and home treatment team had been moved to the Cavell Centre in Peterborough.

The team are responsible for providing care and responding to calls from mental health patients in the community.

Officials at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust, who oversee mental health services, insisted the move would have no detrimental effect on care.

But at a consultation meeting into the changes held in Huntingdon last month there was angry criticism of the move. One mother described waiting 20 hours for the team to visit her son while he was experiencing a psychotic episode.

A trust spokesman confirmed this week that the team had moved back into Huntingdon on February 1. It is now based at the Newtown Centre.

Day cover has also increased from a rota of three members of staff on early shifts and two on late shifts while the team was based at Acer Ward to four providing late and early cover.

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At night, a dedicated member of staff will be based in Peterborough responding to calls from the Huntingdonshire area.

A trust spokesman said: “The change came following the consultation on the future of mental health services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“Feedback from the public, service users and GPs was that there was a need for Huntingdon-based services following the closure of Acer Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.”

Denise Hone, modern matron. said the team already had very positive feedback about the move, which has cut travelling times and increased contact time with patients.

She said: “This is a great opportunity to improve the local service for individuals needing to access support in Huntingdon and surrounding areas.”

Campaigner Liz Stokes said: “It’s great to see that our voices have been heard on this issue and real concrete changes made to how services are being delivered. So at least this part of the acute care service is back in the local area.”

INFORMATION: A final decision on the Acer Ward closure will be made by the NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough board at its meeting on March 28.