Concerns for future of life-saving service

A Banbury music teacher says she is concerned a vital service which helped save her life may not be available to patients in future as it is to have its funding slashed by more than half.

Nicola Gardner, 24, who teaches part-time, signed up to the Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust after attempting suicide three times in three months.

Miss Gardner said she referred herself to the service – currently directly funded by the Government – after the community mental health team would not take her in and says the group therapy offered by the service turned her life around.

“You have to be ready to change, it has to be that it comes from you,” she said.

“It’s hard, it’s really really hard and there are days when you don’t want to go but I can’t explain what it does for you.

“If I hadn’t gone there I don’t think I would have survived, I don’t think I would be alive.

“For people with personality disorders it stems from childhood so it has to be this kind of group therapy, one-to-one doesn’t work, you have to be surrounded by those who understand it.”

She continued: “When I heard about the funding cuts I cried because I’ve got friends who are yet to finish.

“I don’t know how people are going to do without it. They think they are saving money but people will be going to GPs and will be going to A& E with these issues.

“It angers me and it hurts that other people won’t get the opportunity they need.”

The Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service is part of the Thames Valley Initiative – a three-county service along with Buckinghamshire and Berkshire providing treatment for people with complex and long-standing emotional and interpersonal problems. In Oxfordshire it runs from Adderbury, Wallingford and Witney.

A spokesperson for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is reviewing the funding of the service, said: “The needs of people living with personality disorder are a priority for both OCCG and OH NHS Foundation Trust.

“The two organisations are working together to develop a model that will reflect best practice and deliver good outcomes for people with personality disorder.”