MENTAL health services could be hit by cuts of more than £9million.

Troubled health trust NHS South West Essex wants to slash up to £9.2million from its mental health budget in the next 18 months as part of a £52million clawback of costs.

Under the emergency turnaround plans drawn up by the trust, about £3.6million could be clawed back from mental health services by the end of March next year.

Another £5.6million could be saved the following year.

On Wednesday, the trust’s board approved a programme of cutbacks, which include axing more than 90 jobs.

But the plans have concerned the boss of mental health services in south Essex, who said the cuts could have a severe impact.

Dr Patrick Geoghegan, chief executive of South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have arranged a series of meetings with the primary care trust to agree a way forward.

“My concern is if the proposed reductions go ahead it will have significant implications for mental health services.”

NHS South West Essex said it is currently spending about £76million on mental health, of which £45million goes to the South Essex Partnership Trust.

It claims the spending is higher than average, and wants to renegotiate some of its contracts to make the savings.

Tom Abell, acting director of commissioning and service integration at the trust, said: “We are currently in discussion with our mental health providers to review our current contracts.”