Ground breaking Camden mental health clinic could close

A small psychotherapy clinic which offers counselling to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents is fighting for survival after health bosses axed its funding.

Camden Psychotherapy Unit (CPU), in Kentish Town Road, was set up by in 1969 to provide psychoanalytic treatment to people suffering anxiety, depression, self harm and other serious mental health problems.

It treats around 80 patients every year, most of whom are either on very low wages or benefits and from immigrant communities – groups which don’t traditionally access psychotherapy.


But this “lifeline” could close within a year after Camden Primary Care Trust announced it will no longer commission services from the clinic, leaving the centre having to fundraise for its �85,000 annual budget.

“The effect on patients will be tragic,” said Ora Dresner, head of service at the centre.

“We have a huge amount of experience working with people who don’t even know how to spell the word psychotherapy, and we work with them very successfully.

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“I am convinced that these people won’t get the treatment they need if we close.”

The CPU was founded by Neville Symington, well known for his groundbreaking work on narcissism, and a group of other psychoanalysts from the renowned Tavistock clinic, which was at the forefront of mental health theory.

The threatened clinic runs a tight ship. It is staffed by five part time psychotherapists while others work there for free.

The clinic estimates that because it is small and free from NHS bureaucracy, 90 per cent of staff time is spent in direct contact with patients.

Yet Ms Dresner claims that despite the good value for money it offers, it was squeezed out of the new tendering process because of its size.

The cost of this organisational change will be borne by the clinic’s patients, Ms Dresner said.

‘Clinical expertise’

“It will mean that a clinic which has a very high reputation in the profession and throughout Camden will close down after 41 years, and once you close an institution that is so longstanding you lose all that clinical expertise.

“Our ethos has always been about offering services for the highest quality professionals. This is something you can rarely get on the NHS.”

Camden Primary Care Trust had not commented as the Ham&High went to press.

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