Services scrapped for mental illness

A LACK of money means plans for a special new service to help people in the early stages of psychotic illness have been shelved.Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (SMHPT) had been planning to have two specialist early intervention teams working with people aged from around 14.

A LACK of money means plans for a special new service to help people in the early stages of psychotic illness have been shelved.

Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (SMHPT) had been planning to have two specialist early intervention teams working with people aged from around 14.

The teams would be able to work with people showing early signs of mental illness so they were better able to manage their problems.

But the trust must now try to do early intervention work through its existing services.

Chief executive Mark Halladay, speaking at a recent public consultation meeting in Ipswich, said: "I am immensely sorry that we are not going to be able to develop early intervention services, but when you are in a hole, you stop digging."

Alan Staff, director of modernisation and CAMHS for the trust, said: "The primary care trusts said there is no money for it so we had to decide what to do. Our choice is to try and do early intervention with what we have got. You stop looking at long-term decisions and go for quick fixes."

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He added that early intervention, for people at an early stage of psychotic illness and mainly schizophrenia, results in a better long-term outlook as people know how to manage their illness.

Mr Staff said they hoped to decide within 15 months as to how early intervention would be provided through other services.

But lack of funding also means two other new initiatives are suffering.

Money was expected from the primary care trusts to set up two crisis resolution teams and two assertive outreach teams.

But money expected from the primary care trusts for these initiatives has been held back, so the trust is having to do them from within its existing services.

Mr Staff said: "They are still happening, but at the expense of everything else. We also can't do it as well as we should."

These moves have raised concerns for the SMHPT patient and public involvement forum.

Chairman Jeff Stern said: "These kinds of services need to be established if we want a modern mental health service. The trust is having to make short term cuts. It will cost more in the long term."

Are you worried you will be affected by these moves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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