HEALTH chiefs would be held more accountable for the closure of services at sites such as Orchard Place if mental health was combined with physical and social care.
That was the message from MP Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health which incorporates mental health, as she spoke to some of the volunteers who help run services in Redditch on Thursday (October 16).
Members of the Mental Health Support Group, which runs weekly at The Space in Winyates, spoke to Mrs Berger about how cuts to services such as the drop-in at Orchard Place near the town centre had left them isolated and worsened their conditions.
But she also heard how the support group and a mentoring project currently being piloted in Redditch had provided alternatives for people unable to access NHS support.
Ms Berger told the Standard Orchard Place was a ‘really good example’ of how bringing the budgets of mental and physical health and social care together would benefit patients as it would mean everyone was ‘collectively responsible’ for the consequences of making cuts.
“What should be the most important thing is timely support to people when they need it. If we have a Labour Government come 2015 we can fix the situation. It is not beyond repair.
“But I have no idea what we are looking at in 2010, I am really worried for mental health if we do not have a Labour Government next year. Another five years of this and what is going to be left? The Government is giving up on and abandoned people who need the most help.”
She added more needed to be done to ensure the parity of esteem between mental and physical health, which is now written into law, became a reality.
Rebecca Blake, Labour Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch and vice-chair of the Mental Health Action Group, said: “People don’t live their lives in the isolated ways our statutory services operate in. When individuals are having a really hard time having to negotiate services even professionals struggle with, it is clear to see the system needs simplifying.
“I know first-hand the stress caused to people by being passed from pillar to post. When you consider the implications this is having on the patient, their loved ones and the waste of money, the lack of support must not be allowed to continue.”