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NHS cuts cause fears for student welfare

first_imgOxfordshire’s mental health services have announced cuts in their psychiatric department, leading to criticism by a University psychiatric expert amid concern that this could lead to an increase in suicides across the county.Oxfordshire Mental Health National Health Service Trust has proposed plans to axe Barnes Unit’s psychiatric accident and emergency service, located at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, as well as cut back on 23% of its junior doctors and 12% of its consultants. Such cutbacks are part of the trust’s plan to save £6m, 10% of its budget. Professor Keith Hawton, the director of Oxford University’s Centre for Suicide Research, has said “this will undermine care for some of Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable people. There is potential risk for an increase in suicides.”The Barnes Unit cares for approximately 1,765 people a year who arrive at the John Radcliffe Hospital after self-harming or attempted suicide. Psychologists and medical staff at the unit provide specialist assessments, treatment and follow-up advice. Professor Hawton believes that students at Oxford will be particularly vulnerable to the cutbacks. “I think this could have major consequences for the service for students who are presented to hospital following self-harm.” Suicide is a particularly prominant issue affecting students of the University. In August of this year, a verdict of suicide was declared for a prospective student who was due to have come up last academic year, but was found drowned off Beachy Head just days before the start of term.Hawton took part in an influencial study published in 1995 which found that there was a significantly higher rate of suicide amongst eighteen to twenty-five year olds, compared to the general population over a fourteen year period. If the unit is axed, some of the services will be transferred to the Crisis Resolution Team based at Littlemore Hospital, which is located further out of the city centre, close to the Blackbird Leys area. Professor Hawton said of the transfer to Littlemore “I think it unlikely that any substitute clinical service which already has major commitments elsewhere will be able to give the time necessary.” Oxford University Student Union Vice-President (Welfare), Aidan Randle-Conde, expressed his concerns about the trust’s proposals stating that “with many students experiencing issues of self-harm and suicidal feelings the cutbacks will create major problems across the University.”ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img

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