A woman who uses a “vital” mental health service to help cope with her severe anxiety and depression has been left feeling “disgusted” after its funding was cut.
The Willows day service in Beechdale provides support for people over the age of 50, allowing them to retain their independence while keeping close links with a support worker.
Service users are now uncertain about the future of their support after Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group pulled its funding.
Sandra Goddard, 64, lost her partner, James Cotterill, to lung cancer around 10 years ago and told Nottinghamshire Live she tried to take her own life after his death.
She said she had “struggled to cope” having spent 32 years with him and their three children, who are now aged 40, 36 and 34.
The service has been a lifeline for her, having suffered with severe anxiety and depression ever since the trauma of losing her partner.
“I just could not cope,” she said.
“He meant everything to me and he was gone within six months. We found out he had lung cancer on my daughter’s birthday in the November and he died in March.
“My daughter found me in the bathroom and the police and ambulance came. I ended up in a psychiatric ward at the Queen’s Medical Centre.”
Ms Goddard has attended the service, which is now based in Ambergate Road, for the past seven years, and said it has done “so much” to help her and other service users.
People who attend are assigned a ‘keyworker’, who helps them regain their confidence, increase socialisation and improve their lives while living with mental health problems.
Service users can also purchase meals and take part in activities such as swimming, dancing and day trips.
“I’m worried about other people and I do not know what I am going to do,” Ms Goddard said.
“I don’t know what I would do without my support worker. I’m okay around people but when things are not going right for me I cannot cope.
These people are going to end up in hospital because some people are worse than me.
“We cannot help being ill. I feel for everyone and I feel really sad, they are like family.
“You are going to see a lot of people ending up in psychiatric wards.”
Nottingham City Council, funds the service in collaboration with the Nottingham City CCG, and says it was informed by the health group that it was stopping the financial support.
Catherine Underwood, corporate director for people at Nottingham City Council, said: “Mental health support remains a priority for the City Council and we’ve been speaking with day service users at the Willows to discuss how planned changes will affect them.
“The facility is jointly paid for by ourselves and Nottingham City CCG. Colleagues at the CCG informed us earlier in the year that they planned to withdraw their funding following a city-wide review.
“The council has proposals in place to continue the support that Willows has been offering but, with reduced funding, this will likely move into the community rather than operating out of a permanent base. Plans have been discussed with residents who rely on the service and we will keep them fully informed over the coming weeks.”
Dr Hugh Porter, clinical chairman for the Nottingham City CCG, added: “Mental health has never been more of a priority, both nationally and locally, and that’s why we expect our investment in mental health services in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to increase by £11.1 million, an increase of 6.7 percent, in 2020/21.
“To make sure that we are commissioning mental health services that meet our patients’ needs, we regularly review services.
“This is to confirm that they are following current best practice, to scrutinise for overlap or duplication and to ensure that we are getting the best care and value for local people.
“We understand this decision may be upsetting for the current open door service users, but we will work with our partners at the City Council to ensure people get the mental health support they need when elements of this service close, and that they receive a smooth transition into other available services.
“As responsible commissioners, we have to look at how best to spend the money available on services that our local people need.
“Across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, we have been working together to develop services which meet patient needs and this includes providing more community support and increasing investment in both community mental health teams and crisis services.
“We are also investing into supporting more people with mental health issues into employment and providing early intervention into psychosis. We also recently expanded the street triage scheme.
“We’ve also been working on early intervention, particularly for younger people, and are rolling out five mental health support teams in schools in Nottinghamshire in 2019/20, giving children and young people access to mental health support from NHS trained staff earlier and within their school environment.”
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