NHS chiefs in Croydon confirmed last night that they are going ahead with another £30million-worth of cuts to local services, meaning that local GPs will no longer be able to prescribe gluten-free products, vitamin D for maintenance, self-care medications and baby milk, and that the women’s mental health refuge at Foxley Lane in Purley will close, despite considerable public opposition.
The withdrawal of prescribed food stuffs could mean that nursing mothers could face bills for the products of more than £90 per week. As one concerned mum put it last night, “For babies with milk allergies whose mothers cannot breastfeed – will they now starve?”
The Foxley Lane closure will see mental health resources shifted from the south to the north of the borough, and give the NHS the opportunity to sell the property, which could raise more than £1.5million.
But local mental health groups, who submitted a petition with hundreds of signatures against the closure, are angry at the way the decision was made. “One doctor spoke up for saving Foxley Lane,” one campaigner said, “but then nodded it through.
“We’re not done yet.”
A statement issued by the Croydon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group said: “These decisions have been made in the context of the financial pressures the local NHS is facing. Croydon CCG needs to make savings of over £30million next financial year, which is around 6 per cent of the commissioning budget for local health services of £482.3million.”
The CCG says that Foxley Lane will be replaced by services provided closer to patients’ homes. “Last year 55 women were treated at Foxley Lane. By treating patients in the community rather than at Foxley Lane, the local NHS reckons it could save over £500,000 a year.”
Dr Hugh Jones, the clinical director at SLaM, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees the running of Foxley Lane, said: “The number of patients who are referred to Foxley Lane is very small, and we believe we can support all of them appropriately within the range of community mental health services we have in place following £9million investment in Croydon over the last two years.
“We would also like to reassure people who raised concerns about mental health inpatient capacity in the local area that the Trust is opening a new 14 bed inpatient ward for women in the spring this year at Bethlem Hospital.”
Dr Tony Brzezicki, the clinical chair of NHS Croydon CCG said: “These are very difficult decisions but we need to focus our limited resources where we can have the biggest impact on people’s health and well-being.
“Although the response we received to our prescribing proposals was predominantly positive with over 70 per cent of respondents agreeing that the CCG should stop providing self-care medications, we know these changes will cause some people who currently receive these products on prescription difficulty. We want to work with local communities, Croydon pharmacists and GPs to help make sure we support people to find affordable alternatives.”
Next up for the surgical axing of NHS services in Croydon is the provision of IVF treatment, with the CCG running another “consultation” – where they will go through the motions of listening to the public, and then go ahead with what they have already decided – which continues until March 1. To find out more go to www.croydonccg.nhs.uk
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