Some 30 mental health service users have occupied an NHS clinic in Cambridge to stop plans to shut it down. The protesters were in the second week of their occupation as Socialist Worker went to press.
The occupiers have taken over the Lifeworks centre, which is part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s Complex Cases Service (CCS) for people with personality disorders.
Lifeworks is being axed at the end of this month in favour of a county-wide system of GP referrals onto mental health “pathways” due to health cuts. Over 90 percent of people will be referred back to their GPs.
Alex Jones is a service user at Lifeworks who is involved in the occupation. She told Socialist Worker, “Lifeworks is meant for life. People with personality disorders don’t get better, they learn how to cope.”
The centre has provided a service two days a week for 12 years through its crisis clinic, support group for service users, friends and family, and also information and advice.
The new service will be time limited, meaning people will no longer have continuous support from mental health professionals for as long as they need it.
Supporters and service users held a rally against the closure of Lifeworks last Saturday. Protesters outlined that the closure would worsen people’s health problems, leading to a rise in self-harm and suicide attempts.
Alex said, “Hospital bosses think that because we’re well enough to protest we don’t need the service, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s brought us together as a community, but it’s incredibly stressful too.
"We will be here as long as it takes to get our service back.”