Elderly psychiatric patients set to move

Families of elderly psychiatric patients could be left with a 40-mile round trip to see loved-ones.Psychiatric services for the elderly at Yarmouth's Northgate Hospital could be transferred to Carlton Court at Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft.

Families of elderly psychiatric patients could be left with a 40-mile round trip to see loved-ones. Psychiatric services for the elderly at Yarmouth's Northgate Hospital could be transferred to Carlton Court at Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft.

The move would result in a net loss of four beds as there are 26 beds in the current accommodation at Northgate hospital but only 22 at Carlton Court.

Staff, who did not wish to be named, said wards six and seven, which house the services at Northgate, were the "sacrificial lamb" in a money-saving drive.

A report outlining the proposals is to be presented to the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust's directors at the end of May. If approved, public consultation will follow.

Paul Cracknell, the trust's director of business development, said the proposal was to move from the current in-patient wards to more suitable accommodation at Carlton Court to improve older people's mental health services locally.

Rachel Newson, another director, said it was hoped to save £2m by "moving investment from buildings into services" as part of the NHS's declaration to cut costs by reducing the need for people to go into hospital.

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But a member of the public who wrote to the EDP said: "The care given at Northgate it excellent. This is all about money.

"They say that the two bungalows at Carlton Colville will be better then the care they now receive. Rubbish. The bungalows there are very small. They were built for continuing care and not acute admissions and assessment.

"At Northgate Hospital they can have special treatment in the same building which is not available at Carlton Court."

Patrick Thompson, chairman of the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for the James Paget University Hospital said: "It is better to have patients in the best possible accommodation to give them the services they deserve rather then leaving them in accommodation that is not fit for purpose, even though it might mean their families have to go a long way to see them."

> A public meeting to discuss a proposal to extend the opening hours of The Nelson Medical Centre at Yarmouth from 50 hours a week to 65 hours in 2008 will be held at Christchurch, King Street, at 7pm on Wednesday.

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