Fears for Suffolk mental health centre

FEARS today surround the future of a mental health centre after NHS bosses said they could not guarantee its survival.Old Fox House, which runs a rehabilitation programme in Stowmarket, is just one of the mental health services which has been asked to review its expenditure in a bid to save money.

FEARS today surround the future of a mental health centre after NHS bosses said they could not guarantee its survival.

Old Fox House, which runs a rehabilitation programme in Stowmarket, is just one of the mental health services which has been asked to review its expenditure in a bid to save money.

And despite assurance from Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust that concerns are premature, many supporters already fear the worse.

Linda Yaxley, of Curwen Road, has been a member at the centre for nine years.

She said: "It has always been there for me and I'm very worried.

"I don't know what I would do without it. It's come like a smack in the mouth."

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Betty Clayton, from Eye, added: "I rely on the centre now. Devastation would not be a strong enough word for how we would feel."

Mary Smith, of Mallard Way, said: "This place is an asset to all the community and many people have been helped.

"I gained friends and confidence by going there and they helped me find employment."

The Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust is responsible for the centre, in Old Fox Yard, Ipswich Street, and has met with staff and some of its 300 users.

Martin Royal, director of strategy at the trust, said reviewing the centre's future was part of an annual process and people were worrying too soon.

He said: "Old Fox House provides an outstanding service in the community and although I cannot give guarantees my assessment at this stage is that the impact of cuts would not be worth the savings we would make.

"We receive our funding from the primary care trusts and are left in a difficult financial position to say the least.

"We asked all our providers to tell us of any potential savings and what the impact of cutting services would be."

n. What do you think? Has your life been affected by this service? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or visit the website forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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