Cambridge sit-in protest against mental health service cut

image copyrightEsther Upchurch
image captionDemonstrators have also been protesting outside the centre

A sit-in protest is being staged at an NHS clinic in Cambridge by a group of campaigners trying to stop a mental health service being axed.

Eight protesters occupied the Tenison Road Centre on Tuesday to demonstrate against a programme for people with personality disorders being cut.

Campaigner Alex Jones said they would stay until they met clinic bosses.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said other services in the building had not been disrupted.

A trust spokeswoman said it needed to save £6.5m from its annual budget.

'No help whatsoever'

She said the campaigners had not locked themselves in and that "contingency plans" were in place to prevent disruption.

The demonstrators began their protest after their session at 11:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Ms Jones said up to 25 people joined in, angry that the Lifeworks service, which offers twice-weekly drop-in sessions and a daily crisis clinic, was due to close at the end of the month.

She added about 100 people used the service, which would be replaced by a "more restrictive" scheme.

"Roughly 90% of patients in the Lifeworks service are not being referred to the new pathway so the majority of patients are going to be referred back to GPs with no help whatsoever," said Ms Jones.

She said personality disorders were a lifelong condition but that the new pathway would be limited to two years.

"We are not moving until a representative from the Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group comes to us and we have some kind of agreement that we are going to be kept together as a community," she said.

The trust said it planned to close Lifeworks as part of a "redesign" of services.

In a statement, it said: "We have contacted all those who use the service, and we will be offering further advice and support to anyone who wants to discuss the situation and know more about alternative services on offer in the local area."

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