Mental health services in spotlight

MENTAL health bosses are today considering the options for the future of five services following a series of public consultation meetings.Around 100 people turned out for the last of the four meetings at St Clement's Hospital to give their views on the services under the spotlight.

MENTAL health bosses are today considering the options for the future of five services following a series of public consultation meetings.

Around 100 people turned out for the last of the four meetings at St Clement's Hospital to give their views on the services under the spotlight.

Body Matters therapy centre, the patients' social centre and The Hollies garden centre at St Clement's Hospital, are all under review, along with Old Fox House in Stowmarket and Bridge House in Ipswich, as health chiefs look at ways of cutting their spending.

Mark Halliday, chief executive of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust, and Martin Royal, the trust's director of strategies and partnership, explained the reasons behind the consultation before answering questions from concerned members of the public.

Mr Royal said: "What is important to stress is that nothing is set in stone at the moment. We have to explore all options but no decisions have been made yet.

"Our views have continued to change as we have gone through the consultation process."

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In a lively debate, members of the public expressed fears that by reducing the services costs would actually increase, due to the increased need for people to be admitted to hospital.

Many said the services had helped them on their road to recovery and had had life-changing impacts.

Frank Champkin, of Felixstowe, summed up the views of many: "I think we've heard ample evidence here today, and at the other meetings, of the value of the services that are being given here.

"I think I speak for everyone here and for the thousands that can't come to these meetings when I say it's an absolutely perfect service and should not be watered down in any sense whatsoever."

Mr Halliday said all the comments had been very helpful and would be used by the board when coming up with their final decisions.

He said: "The value and the benefits that these services have is very obvious. We are not trying to deny this. The question for us is how can we maintain the benefit, and how can we do this in a way that is cost efficient for the trust?"

Health chiefs will now begin exploring all the options for the five services in more detail before presenting their findings to the trust at a public board meeting at St Clement's Hospital on November 25.

n. What do you think should happen? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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