With the closure of mental health services just one week away, critics have hit out at the Isle of Wight Council over concerns for patients safety.
Three drop-in centres will close at the end of the month, leaving more than 80 people without a place to go, in a bid to save £145,000.
Suggested in October last year as part of budget proposals, the Riboleau Centre in Ryde, Parklands in Cowes and West Wight Day Services will no longer offer their services from 31 October – neither will a satellite centre in Ventnor.
Plans will still go ahead — despite a petition to save the centres received more than 6,000 and went before the Isle of Wight Council, where it was rejected.
At the time, Cllr Clare Mosdell, cabinet member for adult social care, public health and housing needs, said the services were ‘the delivery model of a bygone era’ and expressed her wishes that people were ‘supported to attend community groups where they can come together simply through their interests and not via illness’.
But one service user, George Brewer, has said he and other users feel ‘lost and desperately betrayed’ by the councils actions.
“There appears to be little in the way of alternative arrangements made for us.
“There are no drop in centres — the council is running nothing at all.
“Everyone at Riboleau looked like they were at a wake the last time I went.
“Staff and user morale is very low and a number of users, myself included, are lost and feeling desperately betrayed.”
Users had been referred to the NHS funded Isorropia Foundation, in Newport, but people could wait up to seven months for support as the service is fully prescribed.
However, it is not only patients that could lose out — eight members of staff may be made redundant or moved to other areas of the council, without a promise they would be placed in adult social care.
Mark Chiverton, the UNISON representative at the council, said following a meeting last Friday, it wasn’t a surprise the centres were closing but it was a ‘great shock’ to staff.
“The council was going to redeploy staff to other departments in care and there were going to be other mental health provisions.
“That is not happening now. Staff are facing redundancy or other jobs within the council. The future is uncertain for all of them.
“It will leave the needs of a number of people unmet, especially given the lack of mental health provision on the Isle of Wight — staff feel concerned and disappointed.
“There should be a council-led service in the forefront, taking this forward.
“UNISON is doing what we can to help them.”
The council said the mental health day services are being redesigned to make them more accessible and responsive to people’s needs, as laid out in the Mental Health Blueprint, becoming a more ‘community-based outreach model of support’.
A council spokesperson said:
“There has been a comprehensive review with the people using the service to ensure alternative provision, if they wish to take it up, is in place. Their wellbeing remains paramount.
“Maintaining networks, peer support and friendship groups are a fundamental part of the vision for the Mental Health Blueprint.
“This follows the current service provision being viewed as an out-dated model. The new more person-centred approach is in line with integration work being undertaken with the Island’s NHS trust and clinical commissioning group.
“In relation to the excellent staff, consultations in relation to how they may be affected are currently ongoing.”
By Louise Hill, Local Democracy Reporter