A DOCTOR has called on health chiefs to change their minds over the closure of a counselling service.

Dr Helen Voller, a psychotherapist from Tavistock, said she was worried the cancellation of an NHS contract for a mental health service would effectively ‘abandon’ patients in most need.

She said: ‘This service, set up 25 years ago, has been a free, accessible and discreet service within local GP surgeries that has been very much appreciated by the community. It has stood as a beacon for a first point of help over mental health issues, people dealing with depression, anxiety, bereavement and a host of difficulties that make day-to-day life extremely difficult.’

She claimed there has been no community consultation over the loss of a ‘very valuable’ resource - a ‘lifeline for people who couldn’t cope’ following a death or anxiety, for instance.

She added: ‘I hope local GPs are as outraged as I am over this service cut and I urge the officials responsible in NHS to reconsider this negative move.’

A spokesperson for the NHS in Devon said: ‘The NHS in Devon has undertaken a review of therapy and counselling services in partnership with people with lived-experience and the current providers.

‘In the Tavistock area, psychological therapy is already provided through TALKWORKS (a service provided by NHS mental health provider Devon Partnership NHS Trust) and current contracts with some other smaller providers will come to an end later this year to remove this duplication.’

Voluntary sector partners and the NHS and patients with lived-experience are creating new support and services. This might lead to some change in providers.

The spokesman added that anyone currently being seen by one of the existing providers, or who is on a waiting list, will complete their treatment or be safely transitioned to other support.

Anyone wanting support is advised to contact TALKWORKS, the NHS Talking Therapies service, either by calling 0300 555 3344 or visiting talkworks.dpt.nhs.uk.