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Health Secretary's decision hits most vulnerable

September 13, 2006 1:02 PM

Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has today given the green light to £3 million cuts to mental health services in Cambridge.

Patients in Cambridge have been waiting for her answer since the drastic cuts, which include the pioneering Young People's Service and in patient facilities for the elderly, were referred for her decision in February by the County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee.

David Howarth MP, who campaigned against the cuts, commented on the news:

"I'm very disappointed in the Health Secretary's response. By allowing these drastic cuts to mental health services to go ahead she is putting some of the most vulnerable people in Cambridge at risk. The Government's funding formula fails to take into account the needs of Cambridge. As long as they refuse to sort this out, people in Cambridge will continue to suffer.

"I am pleased to see, however, that at long last Patricia Hewitt is taking responsibility for the dire situation of health care in Cambridge. I no longer want to hear the Government blaming local people for this situation."

Cllr Geoff Heathcock, Chair of the committee which referred the proposals to the Health Secretary, commented:

"I am appalled though not surprised that the Secretary of State is so indifferent both by the time she has taken to reply and what her reply consists of - when Mental Health Services for the vulnerable in our local community for young and the elderly will now have significant cuts made to them - it is a very black day both for the users of this service but also local opinion and democracy."

David Howarth MP with Cllr Geoff Heathcock outside Addenbrooke's Hospital

David discusses the cuts with Cllr Heathcock

The Secretary of State for Health's decision means that the budget cuts proposed earlier this year will now go ahead as planned. Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are also facing further cuts of £37million in health care healthcare budget in order to reduce overspends in the Primary Care Trust.