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Mental health unit to close in York, sparking new concern
PLANS to close a York psychotherapy unit in a bid to save £140,000 have been described as “deeply concerning” by mental health experts.
St Andrews counselling and psychotherapy unit in Huntington Road - which has seven psychotherapists and psychologists working with or due to work with 179 people - will close under the plans.
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will cut three of St Andrews’ psychotherapy posts from the psychological therapy service in York as part of the changes.
Instead theTrust plans to distribute psychological therapy staff across local teams in York and North Yorkshire.
Peter Gorbert, operations manager of York Mind, said: “Given that the level of provision in York is already limited any reduction of psychotherapy services would be deeply concerning and will impact on the mental health of York residents.
“We’re disappointed by the apparent lack of consultation with service users and feel the lack of clarity around the changes could cause additional concern for the individuals currently in need of psychological therapies.
“We know all too well that lack funding is a serious issue, but feel that a balance needs to be struck between providing support to the people of York and making savings for organisations and any changes should be driven through conversations with service users.”
St Andrews offers therapy to patients with personality disorders - conditions in which an individual differs significantly from an average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others.
A formal consultation is due to begin with staff and patients. St Andrews will continue to operate during that time but no new admissions will be made, a Trust spokesman said.
A briefing on the proposals by Jill Copeland, the chief operating officer for the trust, acknowledges that senior psychology professionals have expressed concerns that the safety and wellbeing of service users will be put at increased risk and questioned the abillity of the service to meet NICE guidelines.
A spokesman for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said services were being reviewed to ensure resources were best used.
He said: “We are confident that people who use our psychological therapies will continue to receive the level of care that best meets their needs. In redesigning services in this way we will provide a robust service for people with a diagnosis of personality disorder, which has not previously been available to people locally.”
She said the changes would mean there was a single point of access for all secondary care services, and no waiting lists before people can access the service they need.
There are backlogs for people waiting for NHS counselling, with 323 people in need of high-intensity counselling for conditions including severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder being put on a 14-month waiting list. A further 207 suffering from conditions including mild and moderate depression and anxiety are on a four-month waiting list for low-intensity counselling.
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