Lowestoft meeting hears about concerns over mental health bed cuts for Waveney and Great Yarmouth

A protest rally is being held to protest at bed cuts at Carlton Court hospital.
It is being held to coincide with a public meeting at the United Reformed Church in Lowestoft Town Centre.

Picture: James Bass A protest rally is being held to protest at bed cuts at Carlton Court hospital. It is being held to coincide with a public meeting at the United Reformed Church in Lowestoft Town Centre. Picture: James Bass

Thursday, February 13, 2014
9:28 PM

The future provision of mental health services in Waveney and Great Yarmouth was under the spotlight tonight as about 100 people attended the first in a series of public meetings about proposed cuts to bed numbers.

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People crowded into the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church to raise and hear concerns about plans by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to reduce the number of acute adult beds for the Waveney and Yarmouth areas from 28 to 20.

Trust bosses heard impassioned pleas by people to keep the beds while there were claims the consultation process was a sham as it was confirmed that a ward had already closed before plans were finalised.

The NSFT plans involve reducing the 28 beds at Carlton Court in Carlton Colville and Yarmouth’s Northgate Hospital down to 20 and moving them all to one of the two sites as part of plans to tackle a 20pc reduction in NHS funding.

And the consultation states it wants to permanently close 12 dementia beds at the Larkspur ward at Carlton Court.

However the meeting heard the ward had already been decommissioned and staff made redundant or placed elsewhere prompting concerns the results of the consultation was already set in stone.

Bob Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney and who had organised a save our beds demonstration outside the church before the meeting, said: “Why are we consulting over wards that are already closed?”

Stephen Mynott, of the group Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts, said: “The consultation is a fig leaf. It is sham, It is like a fait accompli.”

Mr Mynott organised an impromptu vote which saw the majority of the 100 attendees vote in favour that the consultation was a sham.

A worker for the NSFT told the meeting; “Any loss in beds will have a major impact in Norfolk and Suffolk. This will have an impact on the whole system.”

A man whose wife has mental health problems said: “Please don’t take that really important service away. We need help. We need the acute services.

“Please be available when the cry comes.”

Dr Kathy Chapman, director of operations at the NSFT, said that if the consultation results showed people wanted the Larkspur ward re-opened the trust would be able to reinstate it, if the funding was available.

The meeting heard that as part of its plans there would be increased support in the community rather than in wards and the consultation was based on best quality resources available for what was best for the patient.

Dr Chapman also said that only between 2-3pc of patients in the trust needed a hospital bed which used up 40pc of trust resources - funds which were being stretched by government cut backs.

She said: “Clearly, ideally we would like to see more funding.

Dr Chapman added: “There is not much that can be done for someone with dementia in a hospital bed. If it’s the choice, I would have the community services.”

Tonight’s meeting was the first of four organised by HealthEast,the clinical commissioning group for Waveney and Yarmouth and which has launched a 12 week consultation on the NSFT restructure plans.

Responding to the claims the consultation was a sham Andy Evans, chief executive of HealthEast, said: “It is not a sham. We want to hear what the public think about these proposals.”

■Other public meetings are being held at 10am on Tuesday, February 25 at the Comfort Hotel, Albert Square, Yarmouth; at 6pm on Wednesday, March 19 at the Kings Centre, Queen Anne’s Road, Southtown; and at 6pm on Tuesday, March 25 at Beccles House, Common Lane North, Beccles.

The full consultation document and consultation feedback form are available at www.greatyarmouthandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk

You can also respond by e-mailing gywccg.your-views-matter@nhs.net or completing an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/FutureofMentalHealthServices

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