PATIENTS and their families “feel let down” by plans to possibly shut down a mental health treatment service - according to a health body.

The decision to look at closing down York’s Primary Care Mental Health Team - which is the first point of contact for many people suffering from mental illness - is “perverse” according to Healthwatch.

The service - launched in January - helps people who visit their GP with symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

The team could help about 6,000 people a year and has been available through a number of GP practices across the city.

But last week Vale of York CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) confirmed that the service is facing closure - and that they are working on ways to save it.

Healthwatch York - which represents people in the city over their health and social care issues - is encouraging anyone who would be affected by the change to get in touch.

A spokesperson for Healthwatch said: “It is clear from the comments we receive that many people in York experiencing mental ill health, and their families, feel let down.

“They have faced a continual struggle to gain access to services that can support them.

“Despite recent improvements in crisis support across our area, what people really want is early help.

“Such help enables people to avoid ending up in crisis. By preventing crisis, we help people live better lives, recover faster, and reduce the likelihood of family breakdown.

“This service has given this support to some of those waiting for help.

“At a time when we are all talking about early intervention and prevention, when the NHS Long Term Plan supports this approach, this feels like a perverse decision. We urge anyone affected by this to get in touch with us to share their feedback. We want to make sure your voices are heard at every level across health and care in our area.”

A spokesman for the CCG said last week: “In January 2019 the CCG invested non recurrent funds into the Primary Care Mental Health Team to enable local GP practices to offer assessments and a range of therapies that help people with mental health conditions. “The CCG is disappointed to learn that staff employed within the service have received notice.

“In recognising that patients value and appreciate this service, the CCG is currently looking at opportunities to draw down on its other funding areas to help release money so practices can continue to provide services to some of the most vulnerable people in its community.”

A further announcement about the future of the service is expected on Friday.