Category: Community Care

From Community Care. 15th September 2010

Eight in 10 councils in England will not meet adult service users’ moderate care needs by next year on current trends, exclusive Community Care research reveals.

A survey, based on Freedom of Information requests, found three-quarters of councils now meet critical or substantial care needs only.

But this will rise to 80% by next year under plans to tighten thresholds by councils currently supporting people’s moderate care needs. This represents a sharp decline in provision from 2006, when 53% of councils supported moderate needs….

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From the Sentinal. 11th September 2010

CENTRES which look after mental health patients in the community are to be closed at weekends to cut costs.

“The Sutherland Centre in Longton, below, and Ashcombe Centre in Cheddleton have temporarily closed their doors at weekends from today.

And over the next few weeks the remaining two centres run by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare – Lymebrook in Bradwell and Bennett in Shelton will also shut at weekends.

The closures are expected to remain in place until January, when the situation will be reviewed.

But a group representing patients fears the move is the first step towards closing the units altogether.

The four units, which each have eight beds, were the only facilities of their type when they were set up in the UK about eight years ago to help people needing short-term care to stay out of hospital.

Dr Christine Leaman, clinical director at Combined, said the Cheddleton and Longton centres had been selected to close first as they did not have many inpatients who needed the service at weekends.

She said the trust was spending an average of £120,000 a month on bank nursing staff to cover approximately 1,600 hours of work each week.

Staff who would have manned the resource centres at weekends will be redeployed elsewhere such as to the acute wards at Harplands Hospital in Hartshill or the crisis home treatment team.

Dr Leaman said: “During the week the service will be unchanged. If someone is acutely unwell at the weekend then they will use Harplands.

“We are going to be offering home treatment at the weekends whereas before they would have been in resource centre beds. It will be beneficial as it will allow people to spend more time at home but get the support they need.”

She said all patients who would be affected by the change had been informed.

Lorien Barber, director of the North Staffs Users’ Group, said: “This is a slippery slope. I don’t think they have any real intention of reopening the units at weekends.”

There had been plans to close the 32 beds at the resource centres from March this year. But in May 2009 health officials scrapped the plan after an outcry from patients.

Ms Barber said she believed the temporary closures were part of a bid to resurrect the plan to scrap the centre’s beds.

She said: “We can’t see how patient care won’t be affected. It will lead to people being moved around and having their treatment disturbed.””

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From The Socialist Newspaper, written by a Mental Health Worker. 18th August 2010.

Community mental health care bosses in Southwark, south London, aim to save £3.7 million in two years.

They have explicitly stated that they are moving away from providing sustained, long term community support by handing responsibility to patients, who may not be ready or able to manage their own care.

Community teams across Southwark currently support 2,800 patients but are now expected to rapidly discharge 500 to 800 clients. All agency posts are to be cut, which will result in workloads increasing.

Smaller teams of six workers are planned, made up of three ‘band six’ and three ‘band five’ workers. However, most of the existing nursing posts are in band six, whose experience and training are of paramount importance when supporting people with severe and enduring illness within their communities. This means almost half of the workers will be demoted and suffer pay cuts of between £5,000 and £10,000 a year, depending on length of service.

The demotions will lead to demoralisation amongst frontline, very experienced staff who are effectively being driven out, reducing the amount of experience, skill and training in the workforce.

Patient admission stays are also to be cut, meaning patients will be briefly, and possibly more frequently, locked up, drugged up and then discharged with very short term, patchy support. GPs will be expected to care for chronically disabled people and they will not have the skills, time or desire to fill the gaps in mental health service provision.

If patients are not adequately supported then both patients and communities will be left exposed to increased rates of violent incidents, self harm, suicide, severe neglect, substance abuse and homelessness.

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