• Derbyshire commissioners halt consultation to cut mental health service for people with severe needs
  • Decision comes following pressure from local MPs and the public to drop proposals

CCGs in Derbyshire have backtracked on proposals to cut a mental health service for people with severe needs, following local public outcry.

Last month, HSJ reported Erewash, Hardwick, North Derbyshire and Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups had proposed to decommission a psychodynamic therapy service provided by Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust in 2019.

The commissioners have now decided to end their consultation, which was launched on 10 October. The CCGs, which were recently given the green light to merge, have said they will now carry out a wider review of psychological therapies across the region. 

Psychodynamic psychotherapy services offer therapy to adults with severe mental health needs, often those with personality disorders and who have suffered childhood trauma.

The original proposal came amid wider financial difficulties across the four commissioners in Derbyshire, which are now forecasting a combined year-end deficit of £61m for 2018-19. The proposals to cut the service were part of the CCGs’ quality, innovation, productivity and prevention scheme and would have saved around £500,000. 

In a statement to HSJ, Chris Clayton, chief executive for the CCGs, said the decision was based on feedback received on the proposals. 

Dr Clayton added: “Commissioning services that best meet the needs of our service users and patients within the resources available is of paramount importance to us and we now feel that we should extend our approach and conduct a wider review of the range [of] psychological therapy services currently available.

“The decision made by our governing bodies at their meeting in common on 13 December to end the current Psychodynamic Psychotherapy public consultation will enable us to deliver a programme of engagement to support this wider review.”

On 14 November, the union Unite submitted a formal complaint to the CCGs, seen by HSJ, claiming they had misinterpreted evidence presented in their consultation. 

HSJ also understands local clinicians wrote to NHS England director Claire Murdoch to raise concerns about the cuts in April, while local Conservative MP Heather Wheeler wrote to then health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt in May. 

Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: It is clear that the people of Derbyshire really value the psychotherapy service which is estimated to have helped up to 10,000 clients in recent years.

“Unite will be pressing in the coming days that there are iron clad guarantees from the commissioners that the threat to the service has been lifted once and for all – and not postponed.

“The demand for this service is irrefutable and it has to turn away two out of every three people referred to it. The service should be expanded and not be under threat.”

The CCGs and Derbyshire Healthcare FT were approached for comment.