Fear over mental healthcare changes

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A MANIC depressive is worried changes to a psychiatry service could see a string of mental health patients hung out to dry.

The woman, who asked not to be named, has been told she no longer qualifies for vital support from the liaison psychiatry team at the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.

This despite the fact that her liason nurse helps control her medication and offers almost immediate support during difficult times.

She says the service has helped her cope with her bi-polar but that she had been told she would now only get help if she was in hospital.

However, a spokesman for Sussex Partnership – the trust which runs the service – said that far from cutting back, the trust was actually investing in existing mental health liaison services across Sussex, including more senior nurses to provide 24-hour cover for hospital patients with mental health needs.

They did concede though that not everyone would retain the same level of help under the new system, which has come into immediate effect.

“As part of this programme,” the spokesman said, “clinicians have assessed the needs of all our patients currently using psychiatric liaison services in Hastings.

“Some people were assessed and found that other services would better meet their needs so they have been referred to another service.

“For a few, their assessment showed they no longer needed treatment.

“We are pleased that these services are being enhanced and anyone who needs support for mental health needs will have a route into the care system.

“However, it is also important to ensure that our services are focused on those who need them.”

The worried patient who contacted the Observer though, remained unconvinced. “We have been told that we will only be seen if we go through accident and emergency,” she said.

“In many cases that will be too late. Surely it is better to give people the support they need so they don’t end up in A&E in the first place.”