‘They are absolutely devastated’ – Patients in shock as York mental health service is axed

Patients have been left devastated and in shock after it was confirmed today that a York mental health service is being cut.

YorkMix broke the news a week ago that the Primary Care Mental Health Service was under threat.

After that the Vale of York CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) said they would look to find funds to keep the service going.

But today the CCG said the money could not be secured and the service would shut. We had already revealed that the staff had been served with redundancy notices.

‘Life changing’

The mental health support service was launched in January, aimed at helping people who visit their GP with symptoms of anxiety, depression and other illnesses .

Today patients were “shocked and angry” about the news – which some clients said was a “life changing” service – according to a mental health practitioner based in York.

The news came a day after World Mental Health Day – an international campaign to raise awareness of mental illness.

A spokesman for the CCG said:

  • We deeply regret to confirm that additional funding could not be sourced to secure an extension of the Primary Care Mental Health service.

    The service was developed to assist patients seeking mental health support from their GP, and launched in January 2019 as a pilot programme using non-recurrent funds.

    This limited service was trialled in some practices in the Vale of York, but unfortunately due to complex financial circumstances the pilot has not been continued.

York has a higher rate of suicide and of people being admitted to hospital for self-harm than the national average.

Praised by patients

The service offered one-to-one sessions. Photograph: iStock
The service has been praised by staff and patients for offering access to mental health support – including cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques – in the community.

The CCG spokesman added: “The GPs involved, TEWV and the CCG are working closely to ensure patients utilising the provision are referred to appropriate existing alternatives such as IAPT, community mental health teams, counselling services and third sector organisations.

“We will continue to work together to strengthen services in areas of high need to address mental health inequalities.

“Despite very challenging financial circumstances, the CCG has increased support for mental health services in York with an additional £3.5 million of dedicated funding this year compared to 2018/19.

“This investment has helped to increase capacity in Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services, facilitate greater access to psychological therapies, and improve early intervention for individuals suffering from psychosis.”

All a bit lost

A mental health practitioner, who asked not to be named, said: “I have had to tell all the patients that I can’t honour any more sessions – they are absolutely devastated.

“They have been sat at home thinking they are finally going to get some help.

“All of my clients are really cross, really angry, they are all feeling a bit lost.

“They said they were just shocked and asked how could this happen? Mental health is so huge and the Royal Family have backed campaigns for mental health.”

The practioner added:

  • It is a life-changing service – people have said ‘thank you so much, you have helped me in such a short space of time’.

    Many of the patients just can’t afford to pay for therapy.

    The service offered CBT, mindfulness and solution focused work. A lot of patients came to the service with anxiety, depression or personality disorders.

    There can also be a lot of crisis work, such as people who self-harm and trying to keep people safe.

    There were young people using the service, including students, but also older people who are lonely.

    I see some really vulnerable people.

A ‘heartless’ move

Cllr Anna Perrett, from York Labour, said the move was “heartless”, adding: “Mental health services are already under pressure, and my concern is that people will increasingly struggle to access the support they need.

“It is disappointing that the CCG do not appear to have consulted users of this highly regarded service before making this change.

“Any alterations to service provision can be incredibly disruptive to the recovery process and I call on the CCG to reconsider their decision in light of this.

“Yesterday was World Mental Health Day where we raised awareness of mental health conditions and the support people need; and today we see a reduction in services for the people in York who need it most.

“We know hospital admissions for 10 to 24 year olds who self-harm is significantly higher in York than many other towns and cities and depression and anxiety prevalence in adults is the highest in the whole of the Yorkshire and Humber Region and the CCG are now reducing support.

“Mental health provision is not being given parity with physical health and my fear is that any cuts or chipping away at mental health services will have a massive impact on people’s health – it’s heartless and is just not acceptable.”