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New Forest MP attacks break-up of support group for scholars
9:00am Saturday 19th December 2009 in News
STUDENTS in Southampton with serious mental health problems have lost a “lifeline” following the dismantling of a specialist service, a Hampshire MP has told Parliament.
Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, accused local health bosses of wreaking “covert destruction” of a mental health team of five therapists dedicated to treating suicidal students, mainly from Southampton and Solent universities.
He told the House of Commons that the team, having been run by Southampton City primary care trust (PCT) for about a decade, was recently transferred to the Hampshire Partnership Foundation Trust, after which most of its staff were made redundant and its student services merged with those for less seriously ill adults.
Following a tender process, milder cases of anxiety and depression in Hampshire are now handled by Dorset Healthcare Foundation Trust, under a programme known as “improving access to psychological therapies”, while NHS Hampshire tackles more serious and complex mental health problems. In both cases, students are treated alongside the general population.
Dr Lewis said: “We find that the [student mental health] team has been dismantled and its personnel have been, for the most part, made redundant. The students have lost an important service and a lifeline.
“In effect, what has happened is the destruction of a specialised service for seriously ill young people in the Southampton area. The effect of that is disastrous.”
Dr Lewis has also called on the Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to reopen the Ellingham Ward, a six-bed psychiatric intensive care unit in Woodhaven Hospital in Calmore, near Totton, and for an end to the “continuing threat” to the future of Crowlin House residential rehabilitation unit in the New Forest.