Mental health rehab services fear cuts

TWO rehabilitation services for people with mental health problems are today bracing themsevles for a possible 20per cent funding reduction.Users say staff cuts and a loss of vital rehabilitation services at Old Fox House, in Stowmarket, and Bridge House, in Ipswich, look likely if the reductions are imposed.

TWO rehabilitation services for people with mental health problems are today bracing themsevles for a possible 20per cent funding reduction.

Users say staff cuts and a loss of vital rehabilitation services at Old Fox House, in Stowmarket, and Bridge House, in Ipswich, look likely if the reductions are imposed.

The two clubhouses, run by Suffolk Mental Health Partnership (SMHP) are among five day-care services currently under the spotlight as part of a cost-cutting review designed to ease the Suffolk health system's rising debts.

A detailed consultation with users and staff of all five services has been carried out over the course of the past three months and the SMHP NHS Trust is expected to announce how it plans to move on at a meeting on Thursday.

At Bridge House members have worked with staff to draw up a plan showing the impacts of cuts.

They say if the clubhouse loses 20pc of its budget consequences could include the loss of two of the clubhouses' seven staff members and a reduction in the transitional employment programme which helps users back in to paid work.

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Bridge House member Kevin Byford said: "Things are running really well at the moment and if we had to lose staff the services would undoubtedly suffer. We would not get the one-on-one time which is so important."

Linda Yaxley, a member of Old Fox House, said: "Losing staff is just not an option. The club has the lowest staff it could possibly have so that the members are involved in its running."

Martin Royal, director of strategy for the mental health partnership, said no definitive decisions have been made but the trust would now be exploring ways to retain and modernise the clubhouses and the option of closure has been ruled out.

Mr Royal said: "We believe closure would be significantly detrimental to the current users of the clubhouse.

"There is a very strong desire to retain the clubhouse model but there may need to be some areas that need to modernise.

"The reality of it is the status quo is not an option, modernising is what we must do to provide more efficient services for the 21st century."

Mr Royal stressed the 20pc reduction is not set in stone and will be examined more thoroughly before any firm decisions are made.

Mr Royal said the trust would also be looking at "selling" the services offered by the clubhouses to other organisations that use them - for example, the probation service.

The other mental health services under the spotlight are the Body Matters therapy centre, The Hollies garden centre and the patient social centre at St Clement's hospital.

The results of the consultation and plans for the future of the five services will be discussed at a public meeting of the trust's board at the staff social centre on the St Clement's site at 2pm on Thursday.

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