A LEADING mental health champion has called on health chiefs to halt what he has branded a “shoddy”consultation over major changes to services which he claims will put lives at risk.

Roger Tuckett, Chairman of Hambleton and Richmondshire mental health forum has warned that the suicide rate in the area is already 25 per cent higher than the national average.

Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group and the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services, are holding the consultation to review services.

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Mr Tuckett claimed the consultation was "shoddy".

He warned: "They recommend closure of the two mental health wards at the Friarage Hospital. Yet there is clear evidence that there is not adequate inpatient provision elsewhere. And the story is silent as to how promised alternative community support will compensate.

“If beds are to become rationed, some will be denied the level of care they need and deserve.

“Most hospital inpatient admissions for working age adults are because they are in serious danger of self-harm. Many are at risk of killing themselves. More than half are detailed under the Mental Health Act. Even today, there is not sufficient space, and maybe a third are sent long distances away.

“They become disconnected from their surroundings, friends and family and the local support services needed to bring them back home to recover.”

Mr Tuckett, who has experienced mental health issues himself, added: "These patients are there because they have suicidal thoughts. As did I three years ago. A genuine and seemingly rational belief that to end one’s own life is the appropriate thing to do. The associated mental distress is unimaginable; definitely not merely a cry for help, and certainly not attention seeking. With excellent treatment which I managed to receive, these thoughts and feelings can and do go away.

“But some do end their lives. In Hambleton and Richmondshire over five years, more than 60 souls will likely do so, 12 more than the national average rate would predict and 60 more than should be the case.

“The consultation must be halted. Or certainly no decision made to implement any of its three options. Facts must be gathered. Analysis must be completed.”

Gill Collinson, Chief Nurse of the CCG said: “We welcome the recent findings of this small North Yorkshire wide audit and remain fully committed to reducing suicides across Hambleton and Richmondshire.

“We recognise that prevention is key to supporting patients with mental health issues and the CCG are currently undertaking a consultation which aims to improve adult and older people’s mental health and wellbeing services across Hambleton and Richmondshire. These services are designed to improve outcomes for people of all ages and backgrounds, including reduced risk of suicide.

“The formal consultation process which undergoes scrutiny from NHS England and the County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee closes on September 15. The consultation options currently being shared with the public were informed by clinical evidence, service user, carer and clinical feedback.

“We urge those who have not yet got in touch to have a say to help inform a decision due to be made later this year.”

The consultation is at https://www.hambletonrichmondshireandwhitbyccg.nhs.uk/transforming-mental-health-services