The Solace Centre in West Ealing is the borough’s only mental health drop-in centre and has been threatened with possible closure – see here for previous story. The users have been working flat out to save their centre and now have over 2,000 signatures on their petition. This means they are allowed the right to a full Council Chamber debate – Tuesday 27th starting 7pm. The meeting is at the Town Hall and is open to the public.
I think most of us are well aware of the Council’s need to make some very tough decisions about cuts to services. However, this is where we need some joined up thinking and not to simply see budgets in isolation from their consequences on budget holders in another area of care. For example, what happens if the Solace Centre is closed and even just a few of its users end up in hospital or community services? What is the cost of running the Solace Centre compared to the cost to the NHS/West London Mental Health Trust of looking after someone. The cost of running the Solace Centre seems to be about £150,000 pa with the Council paying some £110,000 or so of this and the West London Mental Health Trust paying the balance.
I found the following on the BBC News site for 10th April 2014 which makes interesting reading even if it is not an exact comparison for the Solace Centre:
‘Rethink Mental Illness published the report with the London School of Economics.
The report said it costs on average £13 a day to support someone with psychosis or schizophrenia in the community.
It said this compared with the £350 average daily cost of keeping a mental health patient in hospital.’
The point about joined up thinking is that whilst the Council may save money from its budget if it closes the Solace Centre it runs the risk of passing on greater costs to the NHS at an overall increased cost to taxpayers if just a few of the Centre’s users end up in hospital as a result of the closure.