Concern over speed of change at mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk
10:28 24 January 2013
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012
Concerns have been raised about the speed of changes to mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, which could see the closure of beds as soon as next month.
Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has drawn up plans to reduce its budget by 20pc over the next four years, which could see the loss of 500 jobs.
Members of Norfolk and Waveney NHS supported the changes in principle at a board meeting on Wednesday. However, they raised fears about the pace of change, particularly in west Norfolk.
The proposals, which will look to adopt a centralised patient assessment system and more care in the community, could see the number of inpatient beds in Norfolk and Waveney reduce from 173 to 52. Particular concern was aired about bed cuts in the west from 42 to 18, which could happen in February.
Bed closures in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are planned this summer and the rest of Norfolk in 2014. Mark Taylor, chief officer of the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said officials from Norfolk’s CCGs had called on the trust to take a pause to review its plans and talk to commissioners.
“We are concerned about the pace of implementation. We want to test the plans to make sure they are completely robust. If they are safe for patients they have our support. If they get it right, it is a step forward,” he said.
A consultation on the changes at the mental health trust ended this week with more than 700 responses.
Sue Crossman, chief officer of the West Norfolk CCG, said they had not seen any evidence of the changes improving access to referral.
“Our main concern is that they can not provide us with confidence that them closing beds will not have a detrimental effect on patients, particularly patients with dementia,” she said.
Patrick Thompson, chairman of Norfolk LINk, said there was a sense of “deja vu” with plans to close hospital beds for more care in the community.
“If the CCGs do not have a strong enough voice, we are looking in 12 months time to a dire situation with mental health services in the county,” he said.