People in Lowestoft urged to sign up to campaign against mental health beds cuts in Waveney and Great Yarmouth

Bob Blizzard, Labour's candidate for Waveney in Lowestoft's shopping precinct with letters that people can sign to help keep Mental Health Services.
Bob with Cllr Janet Craig and Lee Kemp. Bob Blizzard, Labour's candidate for Waveney in Lowestoft's shopping precinct with letters that people can sign to help keep Mental Health Services. Bob with Cllr Janet Craig and Lee Kemp.

Sunday, April 20, 2014
2:46 PM

People in Lowestoft have been given one final chance to show their opposition to plans to slash mental health beds for Waveney and Great Yarmouth.

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Saturday saw campaigners organise a public sign up event to try and persuade the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) not to go ahead with a proposal to cut the number of adult acute beds from 28 to 20 at Carlton Court in Carlton Colville and Northgate Hospital in Yarmouth and re-locate them to just one of the two sites.

A save Carlton Court stand was set up in the town centre between 10am and 2pm with shoppers and passersby urged to sign a petition and also individual letters to HealthEast, the clinical commissioning group for Waveney and Yarmouth, which is carrying out its own consultation on the plans.

That consultation finishes on Thursday, with a decision made in July.

Despite being in the consultation, NSFT has already mothballed 24 beds at two wards at Carlton Court, which were used for dementia assessments and for people with bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

Throughout the four hours there was a steady stream of people who signed the petition and letter, parts of which said: “I am opposed to the closure of in-patient beds at Carlton Court.

“There would be no in-patient facility for either acutely ill adults/older people or those with advanced dementia.

“It’s unreasonable to expect those in such need to travel to Norwich or Great Yarmouth.”

Saturday’s consultation sign up event was the last of about half a dozen held in Lowestoft and Beccles against the NSFT bed cuts.

Among the campaigners was Bob Blizzard, Labour’s parliamentary prospective candidate for Waveney, who opposes the cuts on three grounds - there is a current lack of capacity in the region for patients, patients and families should not be forced to travel elsewhere and it a waste of taxpayers’ money.

He said: “It will be ridiculous if Lowestoft, Suffolk’s second largest town, ends up having no mental health beds. It would be scandalous.”

NSFT is looking to cut 20pc of all its beds as part of a move towards providing more care and support in the community, including a dementia intensive support team and a pilot scheme of up to six beds in care homes for people in Waveney and Yarmouth.

Older people who need an inpatient bed would have to go to Julian Hospital in Norwich.

The trust’s proposed moves comes as it faces a 20pc cut in NHS funding by 2016.

For details on the consultation visit www.greatyarmouthandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk

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