A LAST ditch appeal to MP Oliver Letwin to save the Hughes Unit mental health service in Bridport has been made by the pressure group HUGS.
Spokesman and chairman for the group Simon said the beds in the unit would be closed from April 22 – cuts of such savagery could have ‘incalculable’ costs.
He said: “All mental health beds in Bridport and Sherborne at the Hughes Unit and Stewart Lodge will go. The overall effect is a savage 35 percent reduction.
“The changes will be made almost overnight on April 22.
“Under the proposed changes the staff released will be re-deployed in the community. Service users and carers do not believe that the increase of 20 staff to run an operation 24/7 in an area of 676 square miles will be safe.
“There will simply not be enough in patient facilities.”
Simon added that it was clear the cuts were being target driven - as they were in the scandal riven mid-Staffordshire trust.
He said: “Many mental health patients and carers feel that their treatment will suffer if they complain. So very few do.
“This is why Minterne ward (at Forston Clinic in Dorchester) survived for so long with inadequate funding, staffing and its appalling treatment of patients, until the Care Quality Commission came in a second time.
“It failed on all ten national care standards and they wrote a damning report and the ward was closed for four months.”
Simon said for the most vulnerable people needing care the cost of failure could mean lost lives.
He said: “What is the cost of failure? In human terms incalculable, with suicide and self-harming comparable to the effects of a road death or road traffic injury, not to mention overdoses.
“Oliver Letwin has put in place national policies that mental health should be treated on an equal footing with physical health. We appeal to him to prevent the closures now and provide the funding necessary.
“For the safety and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society we need our in patient units, Please write to your GP, the clinical commissioning group and your MP.”
James Barton director, mental health services, Dorset HealthCare said there had been a judicial review into the consultation for the changes and it had been dismissed.
He said: “The judicial review into the consultation was dismissed in court and from April 23 the inpatient beds at the Hughes Unit, seven beds, and Stewart Lodge, nine beds, will be replaced with an increased provision of crisis response and home treatment services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This will be operated from the Waterston assessment unit at Forston Clinic from April 23.
“We had initially intended to run a concurrent service between the Waterston Unit and Stewart Lodge for a few weeks; however our review has shown that we can’t safely operate both these services.
“Both the Hughes Unit and Stewart Lodge will continue to provide recovery focused day-care services seven days a week and a seven bed recovery house opened in Weymouth on 2 April 2.”
Oliver Letwin said: "I am obviously very concerned to ensure that there is absolutely first class care for mental patients in West Dorset. After a series of meetings with the local medics and administrators, I am convinced that the new arrangements will provide that -- as they have done in Dorchester. But we will need to keep a very close eye on issues like transport, to make sure that there are no gaps in the service."
"I am obviously very concerned to ensure that there is absolutely first class care for mental patients in West Dorset. After a series of meetings with the local medics and administrators, I am convinced that the new arrangements will provide that -- as they have done in Dorchester. But we will need to keep a very close eye on issues like transport, to make sure that there are no gaps in the service."