Friday, 30 November 2012


Canterbury and Whitstable Stop the Cuts have been campaigning, for several months, about the threats to local Mental Health services.  Prompted by the threatened closures of Laurel House and Durham House Community Mental Health Centres (CMHC’s) and reduction of in –patient beds across Kent, a petition with over 2000 signatures, collected from people in Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and Faversham,  was presented to Ms Angela McNab, the Chief Executive of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care partnership trust.

Campaigners have now had the opportunity to speak to some of the practitioners who work in these threatened centres.  Whilst wishing to remain anonymous, several expressed concern that the needs of service users will not be met under the future proposal that they will receive treatment in the home.  One employee of the Trust said  
It is a rationalisation to assert that home is the best place for treatment to take place when this argument is advanced only after it is noticed that this will save the Trust money. Home is not the best place to treat people because many are trapped in their homes by their conditions and fear of the outside world. Taking people out of their homes is an absolute necessity as a re/introduction to the world beyond the front door.
In response to our petition, Ms Mcnab has stated that in order to operate within the allocated budget that efficiencies can be made by making best use of their estate.   Unconvincingly she also asserted that closures have nothing to do with the economic climate but that changes are being made because “they are the right way to develop services”.
Ms Mcnab {has} also responded to the issue of in-patient services.  Canterbury and Whitstable Stop the Cuts have been concerned about reports of local people having to access beds far away from their home because of an overall shortage of beds across Kent.  She states that KMPT is currently reviewing the responses to a public consultation exercise to gather the views of people on the future of acute services for adults.  But, wards in Ashford have already been closed and people from as far away as the Tunbridge wells area are now being treated in the new St Martin’s Unit because of a shortage of beds across Kent.
Canterbury and Whitstable Stop the Cuts campaign remains concerned about the state of local mental Health Services. However, the campaign will now continue under the umbrella campaign of East Kent Keep Our NHS Public. EKONP is campaigning against privatisation of the NHS and for all health services to remain publicly accountable. Within the EKONP campaign we will be watching with particular vigilance for the impact of cuts and privatisation on services for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties.  EKONP will hold KMPT to account for any failure to meet their needs.

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