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Editor joins debate as fight for mental health services goes to Commons

A fight by the South London Press to save a 24-hour emergency mental health clinic has been taken to the House of Commons.

Editor Hannah Walker was among those to join a debate on the future of the Maudsley clinic in Denmark Hill, and told MPs and campaigners that the issue had had an unparalleled response from the public and that the paper would not stop until the service was saved.

She said: “We will continue to scrutinise any plans and continue to ask difficult questions.

“We will continue fight for the very best service for South Londoners. We won’t be hoodwinked, we won’t be bullied and we won’t be ignored.

“This fight will go on and on until the South London Press, the campaigners, and our local MPs are completely satisfied that a flagship mental health remains in South London.”

The 24-hour clinic is under threat because of the local NHS trust is try to cut costs.

It treats people who are suicidal or suffering a mental health crisis, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At a debate in Parliament’s Grand Meeting room, North Southwark and Bermondsey MP Simon Hughes demanded answers from health minister Rosie Winterton.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt says closing the clinic will not result in a lack of service because patients will be able to use an expanded A&E department at nearby King’s College Hospital.

In December South London Press editor Hannah and reporter Anna Giokas presented a petition with 1,500 signatures to the Department of Health.

Hannah told HoldtheFrontPage: “Maudsley is a superb service – we have had a flood of support for the clinic from users and their relatives. It affects the whole community.

“We are determined not to see it closed. One man stood up (at the debate) and said he wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Maudsley – it is a life and death issue.”