A group of charities and service users are holding a demonstration today in protest at the expected closure of the UK’s only remaining psychiatric emergency clinic.
The Maudsley Hospital Emergency Clinic in south London has provided a round-the-clock crisis service for over twenty years. Plans to close the clinic were approved earlier this year by the then health secretary Patricia Hewitt, with the proviso that facilities at nearby King’s College Hospital were upgraded. However, the clinic has already stopped treating emergency cases and many people are concerned that the new facilities are not yet up and running.
A concerted campaign led by service users and charities such as Southwark Mind has been growing in strength. Local MPs have also lent their support, including Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes, who presented a petition against the closure to Parliament in July.
But on 8 November the Southwark Primary Care Trust board voted to go ahead with closure. It is expected that Lambeth Primary Care Trust will follow Southwark’s example at a board meeting today, which will sound the death knell for the service.
Service user Sarah Tonin said: the clinic had “saved my life many times” and said she feared facilities at King’s would not be adequate.”
Mary Roberts, a member of the Lambeth Mental Health Action Group, said: “Patricia Hewitt stated that local stakeholders had to be confident that local mental health services were sufficient to meet the needs of service users in the absence of the clinic. What people have been telling us loudly and clearly is that they have no such confidence and that the current arrangements are a shambles.”