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Consultation on Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust cuts comes to an end

11:50 23 January 2013

Maggie Wheeler, chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Maggie Wheeler, chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

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The chairman of a mental health trust said officials would be looking in detail at the responses to a consultation that could lead to 500 job losses.

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More than 700 individuals replied to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust consultation, which came to a close this week.

The NHS trust, which is responsible for mental health services across the two counties, is looking to shed 500 posts and 20pc of its inpatient beds by 2016 in order to balance its books.

The organisation, which is looking to cut 502 of 2,128 posts, is facing up to the prospect of reducing 5pc from its budget every year over the next four years.

A 90 day consultation ended on Monday and members of the board and clinicians leading the changes will issue a formal response within ten days after analysing the hundreds of responses.

Maggie Wheeler, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said they were listening to people’s views on the proposals.

“We have had really detailed and constructive feedback, including how we can change things. It is fantastic that many people care about our services.”

“What we have said is that the final plan will not be what was in the original paper. What is clear we can not do what we were doing with 20pc less money. This has not happened overnight and is a four year plan and we are not the only trust in the country doing this.”

“Everyone is facing this and what our senior clinicians said 18 months ago is that we can not chip away at the edges and have to make best use of the money we have. It is quite radical and different and we have been up front and transparent,” she said.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has publicly issued its concerns at the proposed cuts, which could see the number of consultant doctors being cut by a third and other grades of doctor reduced by 40pc over the next three years.

The mental health trusts for Norfolk and Waveney and Suffolk joined forces in 2011.

Bob Blizzard, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, who met the chairman of Norfolk and Waveney NHS on Monday to express his concerns about the mental health trust proposals, said he would be seeking meetings with Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) officials who will be in charge of health services from April to make funding available to avoid the foundation trust’s cuts.

“It’s the scale of these cuts which is frightening. Acute adult beds going from 42 to 20 and acute dementia beds from 12 to 3 when they are currently over subscribed doesn’t add up. Also the pace of implementation - changes are already being made even though the consultation only finished on Monday,” he said.

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