The South West Yorkshire mental Health Trust has withdrawn redundancy notices they’d sent to Art Psychotherapy Staff, as campaigners have forced a halt to the proposed closure of Calderdale Art Therapy service. This now has to go to public consultation.
The service helps around 60 people with mental health problems and a service user instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help the campaigners fight the proposed closure after staff were given redundancy notices.
Irwin Mitchell wrote to South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the service challenging the closure, based on an alleged failure to consult service users on the change.
The Trust has now withdrawn the redundancy notices and is maintaining the existing service until consultation has been carried out about its continuation. Yogi Amin, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the service user challenging the closure said:
“This centre provides a very important service to extremely vulnerable people and they were faced with its closure which has caused a lot of extra unnecessary worry and stress. We are pleased that the NHS Trust has now withdrawn the redundancy notices served on the NHS staff delivering therapy and we will be watching the pending consultation with interest to make sure the service users have their voices heard appropriately.”
One of the service users taking legal action, who wished not to be named, has been attending the art psychotherapy service for more than seven years. After suffering from trauma in her childhood, she was diagnosed with bi polar disorder. She reports that the art psychotherapy is helping her to address and recover from her mental health problems. She said:
“The mission statement of the South West Yorkshire Partnership Trust states that it is led by the values of honesty, openness and transparency. Yet service users in this instance only came to learn of the planned closure when the therapists were given the compulsory redundancy notices. It is only through the threat of legal action that the Trust have now acknowledged that they were planning to close the service. Whilst it is a relief that the redundancies have been withdrawn I am concerned that the future of the service is unsafe and I feel that we must maintain access to this critical therapy on the NHS.”