Mental health centre locks people out

FURIOUS users of an Ipswich day centre were forced to wait outside for almost two hours because a vital member of staff had a hospital appointment.And clients of Bridge House in Lower Brook Street claimed that yesterday's lock-out showed how the service was being run-down ready for closure in the New Year.

FURIOUS users of an Ipswich day centre were forced to wait outside for almost two hours because a vital member of staff had a hospital appointment.

And clients of Bridge House in Lower Brook Street claimed that yesterday's lock-out showed how the service was being run-down ready for closure in the New Year.

Bridge House normally opens its doors at 9am. It serves vulnerable adults with mental health problems.

Yesterday it did not open until 10.45am, leaving its clients waiting on the pavement outside until the doors were opened.


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Visitor Deskin Cornwell-Knight said: “Bridge House is supposed to care for vulnerable people, but what happened here was terrible.”

Mr Cornwell-Knight felt the incident showed how Bridge House was being run down - its closure is currently under consideration as health trusts attempt to cut costs.

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“Staff have been advised to apply for other jobs - and those who have left are not being replaced. We used to have four members of staff here all the time. Now there are only three.”

Mr Cornwell-Knight said the remaining staff were worried about the future - although they were not allowed to discuss their fears.

Their concerns were shared by the service users and Mr Cornwell-Knight felt many of the services users would be lost without Bridge House.

He said: “We work together and help each other out. We have had people here who have been suicidal and we have helped them together. Without this place we will be on our own.”

The consultation period discussing the closure of Bridge House has now concluded, and a decision on its fate will be made at the end of January.

Bob Bolas from the East Suffolk Mental Health Trust said service users had been warned the previous day that Bridge House would be opening at 10am because of the hospital appointment - but he accepted some of the users may not have known about the delay.

“Before then there were only two junior members of staff at Bridge House and they were not able to open to the service users although they did offer them refreshments,” he said.

No decision had been taken on the future of Bridge House, and if it did close support would be offered to the service users.

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