Councillor blasts Luton mental health services as 'totally unacceptable' after concerns aired in patient feedback

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Concerns highlighted in a Healthwatch Luton year-long review of mental health provision locally have been labelled “totally unacceptable” by a councillor.

East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) provides mental health services in Luton, as well as Central Bedfordshire and Bedford borough.

After the report was presented (see story here), Labour South councillor David Agbley told the council’s health and social care review group: “As a resident of Luton who wants a first class health service for the town, this is totally unacceptable.

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“We need more improvement. For me this is a serious indictment of the service which is being provided to Luton residents.”

Concerns have been aired over mental health services in LutonConcerns have been aired over mental health services in Luton
Concerns have been aired over mental health services in Luton

Assistant director of in-patient services with ELFT, Sasha Singh said: “As a service we’re trying to be as responsive as possible, but it’s also quite difficult and I want people to acknowledge this.

“We’ve got a higher number of people detained under the Mental Health Act.

“Some of the feedback would be more negative because people are in hospital potentially against their will and wishes.

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“So it would be helpful if some of the positives were shared as well.”

Nina Wright, ELFT deputy director for mental health and well-being services, told the review group that calls had increased during the pandemic, shortly before which “crisis cafes were mobilised”, including one in Luton.

“There are a lot of people in distress and experiencing anxieties, so the new service has been helpful for someone in a crisis.

“It’s in partnership with Mind, but supported by our colleagues in the crisis resolution and home treatment service for anyone experiencing difficulties above and beyond what the crisis cafes could support.

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“They could see the person or arrange for someone to be transferred to the crisis team for assessment.”

Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor Richard Underwood asked if the response was more reactive than proactive.

Clinical director of mental health in-patient wards in Bedfordshire and Luton, Dr Guy Thompson replied: “That wouldn’t be my sense.

“As an organisation and certainly within the department we’ve a very strong orientation around quality improvement.

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“There’s been a lot of work going on, so I wouldn’t agree that we’re taking a reactive approach.

“We’re incredibly committed as a service and as a senior leadership team and as a staff group to be wanting to deliver the best care possible.”

Councillor Agbley said: “We need a first class service and don’t accept anything less than we expect from anyone else.

“We’re going to keep this as an agenda item going forward until these issues have been resolved.”

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