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Trust to seek views of local people in shaping the future of mental health services in Newton Abbot

Posted on 24th October, 2007

Devon Partnership NHS Trust wants to hear the views of local people on the future development of mental health services for people living in and around Newton Abbot. The Trust will be holding a listening event at  Newton Abbot Racecourse on 22 November 2007 at 6.30pm, and is encouraging its service users, carers, staff and members of the public to attend. For further information telephone 01392 208693. Chief Executive, Iain Tulley, explains:  “The creation of a new hospital for Newton Abbot is great news for the town, but it does mean that we have to make some decisions about the future of the mental health services that are currently provided on the existing hospital site. “The most pressing need is around St Michael’s, our inpatient unit.  The staff at St Michael’s do a first class job and we want to build upon much of the good work that they do.  There are, however, a number of practical issues that make it very unlikely indeed that we will be able to remain on the site once other departments have moved away.  “We have a modern, purpose-built ward (Oak Ward) currently standing empty at Torbay Hospital and it makes sense to transfer the service from St Michael’s to Oak Ward within the next few months.  This move is supported by both Devon Primary Care Trust and Torbay Care Trust, who commission local mental health services, and it will mean that we can continue to provide a high quality, clinically safe and robust service. “However, the relocation of the service from Newton Abbot to Torbay will raise some issues and we need to have a conversation with local people and other stakeholders about the long-term provision of mental health services in the area.  “There has been some recent media coverage about staff concerns over job security and I think it is important to address this issue.  Like the rest of the NHS, we are always striving to improve the quality of care we provide and how we provide it.  This has already meant some changes for our staff and it will continue to mean changes for others as we develop new services. “However, these changes are about improving the care we provide, which is always our overriding priority.  They are very definitely not about redundancies or job losses and we have, in fact, had a very constructive meeting with unions this week about how we engage with our staff on the next steps in the process.  We will be working with our staff and their representatives to do all we can to reassure them about their long-term job security with our organisation.” Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Peter Aitken, added:  “One in four people who visit their family doctor do so because of concerns about their mental health or emotional wellbeing and we are seeing an increase in many of the most common mental illnesses.  We need to provide better and wider access to services and we want to hear people’s views about how we can achieve this. “It is often difficult for us in mental health to stimulate the same level of debate and interest as our partners working in physical health.  Generally, people have a far greater level of understanding and awareness about cancer and coronary heart disease than they do about schizophrenia and depression.  We need to change this and are encouraging everyone with an interest to come along to our listening event to talk through the issues and possible solutions.”

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