AN NHS psychologist who counsels dying cancer patients, has described claims by the leader of Oxfordshire County Council as “pathetic” after he accused her of showing no love for vulnerable people.

Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell hit out at Dr Diana Sanders after she criticised the authority’s plans to cut funding for 20 libraries in a letter to the Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times.

She had criticised his suggestion that authors including Colin Dexter and Philip Pullman were opposing plans to cut funding for libraries as they had a “vested interest” in book sales.

A reply in the following week’s edition, referring to the 55-year-old Headington doctor’s letter, said: “I am only sorry that your love of library buildings, collections, reference books and maps does not extend to the human beings – young and vulnerable, old, disabled, with learning disabilities or mental health problems – who will have to endure extra cuts if we were to exempt libraries.”

Dr Sanders, a psychologist and cognitive therapist for people with mental health problems and life threatening conditions, said: “It is pathetic (and) thoughtless... I have devoted my career to the groups he accuses me of having no love for.”

Mr Mitchell said he had “never heard” of Dr Sanders before writing to the Oxford Times. He said: “If I had known of her background I would have used different words to avoid the unintended slight she clearly feels, and which I regret.”