Wells CLP has expressed concern about the ‘Fit For My Future’ consultation which could see the closure of St Andrew’s ward in Wells and moving it to Yeovil. The group has been campaigning to keep the ward open in Wells AND build a second ward in Yeovil, and to replace the second ward in Wells, thus increasing capacity to cope with the mental health issues which are becoming increasingly apparent as a result of Covid-19 lockdown measures. Somerset CCG will announce their decision in a meeting at 9.30am on Thursday 24th September, and it is expected that they will announce the closure of the ward. Labour Party members are planning a protest against this closure and will be gathering at Somerset CCG Headquarters at Wynford House, Lufton Way, Yeovil BA22 8HR at 9.30am. Branch Secretary of Glastonbury & Street Labour Party, Emma King, says “Once this ward is closed, it will never reopen and the additional travel to Yeovil will only add to our carbon footprint at a time when a climate emergency has been declared.”
Emma has written to press outlets in support of their campaign.
As many of you may know, Fit For My Future held a consultation about the future of St Andrew’s Ward in Wells from 16th January to 12th April this year and the findings of this consultation have been published, with the final decision being announced on Thursday 24th September. In spite of the fact that 52% of respondents were opposed to the option favoured by the CCG – moving the ward from Wells to Yeovil – and only 37% were in favour, the expectation is that the closure of St Andrew’s Ward will be announced. The Fit For My Future team justified this by saying that there was a much higher response rate in the areas closest to St Andrew’s Ward and, instead of recognising the genuine concern here, have claimed that these responses reflect “bias” and so are less important than the other responses.
The closure of St Andrew’s ward could not come at a worse time, as male suicide is at its highest rate for 20 years nationally and Covid-19 will continue to have an enormous impact on the mental health of the nation. Furthermore, requiring people in the local area to travel further to access this type of service will be detrimental, both to the recovery of the patient and to the carbon footprint, which needs to be seriously considered in the current climate emergency.
Closure of St Andrew’s Ward is just another step along on the planned neglect of our NHS. Clearly, the closure of Phoenix Ward was ill-advised if it has now placed staff at risk, as suggested in this consultation – why was this not considered at the time? We know that once St Andrew’s ward is gone, it will never be reopened, and, whilst the amount of mental health beds in Somerset will remain the same as there will be a new ward in Yeovil, the mental health services in Wells will be virtually non-existent and vulnerable to further cuts.
We would like to see another ward built at Yeovil, but not at the expense of Wells. We demand that St Andrew’s ward is properly funded and staffed and that Phoenix ward is reopened so that Somerset is prepared for the mental health crisis which is unfolding as a result of Covid, and so that the necessity to send people out of county for treatment will be removed. We know that if people are treated closer to home, they can receive more support from friends and family and that this will assist them in a speedy recovery.
Now is not the time to axe services in Wells. If you agree and would like to be involved in campaigning against this closure, please find our Facebook group “Save Our Community Services”. If you do not do Facebook, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will keep you in the loop.
Branch Secretary of Glastonbury & Street Labour Party