Fears for future of mental health facility

PUBLISHED: 15:22 22 April 2015

Archant

The closure of an Exmouth facility for people with mental health needs would be 'devastating', the mother of one of its patients has warned.

NHS bosses have said they are considering the future of St John’s Court, as they look to save £6million a year in Devon.

Dot Taylor, whose son attends St John’s Court, fears its closure could force patients to travel to Exeter or Honiton to get vital support – a task they may not be able to face.

She said: “The mentally ill won’t be able to travel to Exeter or Honiton on their own.

“They won’t want to come back on the bus.

“It’s going to be devastating for everyone. Absolutely devastating.”

Mrs Taylor added that she and her son had not been consulted, despite NHS bosses saying service users had been involved in discussions.

St John’s Court houses teams supporting adults and older people with mental health needs, and provides clinics for outpatient appointments and a base for NHS staff.

A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which runs the building, said: “For the last couple of years, we have been in the process of reviewing the many offices and clinics that we operate across the county.

“We want to spend less money on bricks and mortar and more money on frontline staff.

“This work is an important part of our plans to reduce our annual spending by around £6m a year over the next three years.

“Like all of our major sites, St John’s Court is part of this process.

“The team at St John’s Court is involved in the current discussions, as are people who use the services - but we have a lot more work to do to consider the options open to us and to engage with stakeholders in and around Exmouth about how services might work in the future.

“Whatever the outcome, and no decision has yet been made, our primary aim will be to ensure that the people of East Devon continue to have access to first class mental health services.”

The matter was also raised at this week’s Exmouth Town Council meeting, where councillors agreed to write to the trust expressing concern.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Pauline Stott, who raised the issue, said: “We sent a letter to say we were very disappointed on hearing this, and as Exmouth is the largest town [covered by Devon County Council] we didn’t want any more services for mental health cut.

“Just because we’re on Exeter’s doorstep, it doesn’t mean everything’s got to be in Exeter.”

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