The future of the Calderdale NHS Art Therapy Service will be discussed at a public Council meeting on Thursday 11 May, at 7.45pm. Save Calderdale NHS Art Therapy Service welcome public support at their Council lobby at 7.15pm outside Halifax Town Hall.
The purpose of the meeting
Calderdale Art Therapy service users are asking for a clear assurance that the Calderdale Art Psychotherapy Service, which has worked so well for Service Users with complex and enduring mental health difficulties, will be secured, with a view to development and expansion.
This vital, life-saving mental health service has transformed many people’s lives. Since January 2016, service users have been working hard to save it from the threat of closure.
This came like a bolt from a blue when the mental health trust (South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, or SWYPFT) gave the two art therapists redundancy notices – without any warning to service users, or consulting with them and the wider public.
SWYPFT only withdrew the redundancy notices when a service user’s solicitor threatened a judicial review, on the grounds that SWYPFT had failed to meet its legal obligations to conduct a consultation with current and future Service Users.
A year on since service users first brought the threatened closure to the attention of Calderdale Council’s Adults Health & Social Care Scrutiny Panel, on 11th May Save Calderdale NHS Art Therapy Service campaign will present the Panel with the service users’ report and recommendations.
As well as calling for the continuation of Calderdale Art Psychotherapy Service, the campaign will ask the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel Working group to determine who could be commissioned to undertake a truly independent investigation into:
the failures of SWYPFT, their decision to close the service and the subsequent traumatic impact this has had and is continuing to have on service users.
Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS supports the Save Calderdale Art Therapy Service recommendations
We would also add to these recommendations two of our own:
1. Calderdale Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel should scrutinise the negligence of Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and the mental health Trust, in failing to include the Trust’s “transformation” proposals in last year’s Right Care Right Time Right Place consultation. We drew this to the attention of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups at the time to no avail. Here are the questions and comments we sent to them last summer.
2. The Scrutiny Panel should use its powers to call on external experts to come in and help them scrutinise both this issue and the SWYPFT failures outlined in the Save CAP campaign’s report.
The official reports
The service users’ Report and recommendations , prepared following the private Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel Working Group meeting on 28th March, is very critical of the two official reports on Calderdale NHS Art Therapy Service that the Working Group meeting considered.
At the 11 May Adults Health & Social Care Scrutiny Panel, Cllr Jayne Booth will present an overview of the process that the Working Group set in motion, and the recommendations that SWYPFT and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group have presented.
But Calderdale Art Therapy Service users question whether the objectives of the Working Group have been met. These objectives, set when the Working Group was formed in May 2016, are:
To ensure that the concerns of service users are heard
To fully understand why SWYPFT wish to cease the Art Therapy Service
To consider the outcomes of the SWYPFT engagement process with the service users
To report back to the Adult Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel with recommendations if the Working Group wishes
To this end, the mental health trust, South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust (SWYPFT), commissioned an “independent’ review of the Calderdale Art Psychotherapy Service from a management consultancy company called Mental Health Strategies.
This review was completed in November 2016. Some of its main points of interest are:
SWYPFT’s decision to close the Calderdale Art Therapy service was made as part of its 2013 “transformation” programme, which was carried out without any public consultation. (In contrast, the “transformation” programme for Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals and community health services, “Right Care Right Time Right Place”, was subject to a 6 month public consultation in 2016 – although this proved pointless, as the Clinical Commissioning Groups ignored the overwhelming public rejection of their proposals. The hospitals trust has since steamed ahead with the Full Business Case, due to be completed this summer)
NHS under-funding – which meant that SWYPFT is short of money – also fed in to SWYPFT’s decision to cut the service
Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group did not know what services were bundled up in the psychological therapies they commissioned from SWYPFT, so did not know that SWYPFT was preparing to close Calderdale Art Therapy service
Calderdale Art Therapy service users were not happy with the April 2016 meetings that SWYPFT held with them
The management consultancy company dismissively attributes service users’ accounts of SWYPFT’s “abuse” and “institutional violence” against them as “employing constructs and descriptive labels likely rehearsed in therapy.”
SWYPFT and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group’s report on the Mental Health Strategies review of the Calderdale Art Psychotherapy Service agrees with its recommendations.
The upshot is that SWYPFT and the CCCG propose that:
Existing service users will be offered a full assessment by the art therapist in collaboration with a psychodynamic psychotherapist informing the service users individual care plan. This will identify goals and outcomes to be achieved. Where necessary and appropriate, the plan may recommend, engagement with other elements of mental health services for the overall benefit of the service user. [To note, this process has already started and a number of service users have already received comprehensive assessments with updated care plans]
As part of Calderdale CCG’s review of psychology services for the people of Calderdale, SWYPFT will “undertake a dialogue with Calderdale CCG to attempt to determine the prevalence in the population of those complex mental health problems (including personality disorders and post-traumatc stress disorder), which consistently respond poorly to short term therapeutic interventions but for which there is some evidence of benefit from psychodynamic psychotherapy.” Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group will be looking at the provision of psychodynamic psychotherapy as part of the commissioned service offer, which could use art as a medium among many others.
Calderdale Art Therapy Service users will tell the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel that these recommendations are inadequate
Instead, they are asking for a clear assurance that the Calderdale Art Psychotherapy Service, which has worked so well for Service Users with complex and enduring mental health difficulties, will be secured, with a view to development and expansion and not dismantled and substituted by “psychodynamic psychotherapy which may use art as a medium among many others.”
And a truly independent investigation into the failures of SWYPFT, their decision to close the service and the subsequent traumatic impact this has had and is continuing to have on service users.
Public support welcome on May 11th
The campaign has posted flyers about the Council meeting in many public places – like Marco’s in Hebden Bridge. Calderdale and Kirklees hope that as many people as possible will support the 7.15pm Council lobby outside Halifax Town Hall. This is a vital NHS service and who knows when any of us might need it?