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Four month deadline to stop out of area mental health placements in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 15:49 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:59 17 January 2014

Andrew Hopkins, interim chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Andrew Hopkins, interim chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Archant

Mental health chiefs and commissioners have set themselves a four month deadline to put a stop to patients being sent outside of central Norfolk for an inpatient bed.

Officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and the GP-led groups that fund mental health services said they were working hard to ensure they had enough beds to cope with demand from patients in the Norwich, South Norfolk and North Norfolk areas.

Bosses from the mental health trust and the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) for central Norfolk were quizzed by councillors over the ongoing redesign of services in Norfolk and Suffolk and pledged to resolve inpatient capacity problems by April.

Supporters from the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk gathered outside County Hall today to air their concerns before the start of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Andrew Hopkins, interim chief executive of NSFT, told the meeting that they were working to reduce patient discharge delays. He added that the NHS trust was working to improve the speed they respond to referrals made to the new Access and Assessment service.

“We know at the moment that we are extremely pressured on beds in central Norfolk and we are making a number of out-of-area placements. We have done a lot of work to reduce delayed discharges. There is a plan to have more beds that are alternatives to admissions and we have nursing home beds in west Norfolk and Great Yarmouth and Waveney. We feel that we should be able to get beds under control and not have to make out-of-area placements,” he said.

Figures from a Freedom of Information request show that the number of mental health patients admitted outside of Norfolk and Suffolk in 2012/13 was 51. The number of patients who could not be found beds locally was seven in the 2010/11 financial year and six during 2011/12.

Mark Taylor, chief officer of the North Norfolk CCG, said: “Although the numbers are small, we want it to end by April. As commissioners we do not want people to go out of area and we want to stop that as soon as possible.”

Terry Skyrme, of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk and a crisis resolution team member at NSFT, said mental health services locally were in “dire crisis” and said 19 patients were placed outside of the two counties two weeks ago and eight of them were in private hospitals. Have you got a story about mental health services? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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