Redundancies withdrawn at Calderdale’s art psychotherapy service

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An NHS trust has stepped back from closing a specialist art therapy service after a legal challenge was launched.

Redundancies have been cancelled at Calderdale’s Art Psychotherapy Service after a law firm challenged NHS bosses over claims that service users were not being consulted properly.

A campaign was launched to save the specialist help over fears it could be closed down without people being offered suitable alternative therapy.

Around 60 people use the service, which is run by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, for help with childhood trauma and deep-rooted mental health problems.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell said the trust and would carry out further consultation on the future of the service after lawyers intervened.

Irwin Mitchell’s Yogi Amin said: “We are pleased that the NHS trust has now withdrawn the redundancy notices served on the NHS staff delivering therapy and we will be watching the pending consultation with interest to make sure the service users have their voices heard appropriately.”

Irwin Mitchell said it wrote to the trust “challenging the closure based on an alleged failure to consult service users on the change.”

Fears were raised that people currently on long-term support could be put on other therapies that only last for 15 weeks if the service closed.

Karen Taylor, South West Yorkshire’s district director for services in Calderdale and Kirklees, said: “We are fully committed to making sure people who use our services have every opportunity to have their say on any review of treatment options, like the art therapy offered in Calderdale.

“We have decided to therefore pause our current process to make sure it is more complete and consistent.

“We will continue to be in direct contact with people who have used the service or who may be affected by this change.”

Last month, the trust said it was carrying out a review of the service - but campaigners feared a decision to close it had already been made.

A service user who asked not to be named said: “It is only through the threat of legal action that the trust have now acknowledged that they were planning to close the service.

“Whilst it is a relief that the redundancies have been withdrawn I am concerned that the future of the service is unsafe and I feel that we must maintain access to this critical therapy on the NHS.”