5,000 say YES - but Norfolk health bosses say NO to funding our mental health helpline

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The campaign to save Norfolk's mental health phoneline has been signed by 3,000 people in the last 24 hours - but health chiefs are refusing to find £120,000 a year to keep the life-saving helpline.

Yesterday, the chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, the chairman of Norfolk County Council's health and wellbeing committee, the Green Party leader and Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas all added their support to the EDP and Evening News backed campaign to keep the phoneline.

By Tuesday morning more than 5,100 people had signed the petition.

The line costs £120,00 a year to run and gets around 800 calls a month from people in Norfolk needing support for mental health issues, but none of Norfolk's four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) or the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trusts want to provide the money.

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Here's the reasons they give for not supporting it:

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•Norwich, North Norfolk, West Norfolk and North Norfolk CCGs

'The CCGs recognise the tremendous difficulties and pressures faced by patients with mental health needs. However the CCGs do not have a budget to pay for the helpline.

It was originally set up using short term national funding made available to Norfolk, solely to ease pressure on NHS services during the difficult winter of early 2015.

This funding was always going to expire.

The CCGs allocate funding to NSFT, and other mental health providers, to provide a wide range of services, which include:

The Crisis Resolution Home Team which has a 24/7 helpline for existing patients ;

A newly commissioned Wellbeing Service in line with Best Practice which also has a helpline for patients;

Norfolk County Council provides a mental health social work service in five teams across the county;

Dedicated and additional interventions at A&E.

'Finding additional money for this service would inevitably mean making savings somewhere else.'

•Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust

'We are all facing very difficult economic challenges within the NHS, and particularly within mental health services. We are doing all we can to invest in ensuring services are more accessible for local people. Our Trust, with the support of its commissioners, is continuing to invest in recruiting more staff in our community services to try to keep people supported and out of hospital. We have – along with Mind and Relate – relaunched the Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney service, which is now taking in more referrals than the pre-existing service ever could, in more accessible places.

'That service also offers a support line and people can refer themselves for support via the phone or website.

'Our Trust is also commissioned to offer a 24/7 crisis phone line for patients currently within our Crisis Resolution Home Treatment service or for those people with a care plan where it's indicated they might be at risk of crisis.

'At this moment in time, there are no extra funds within the Trust available for us to offer any further emergency assistance towards funding this helpline.'

•Add your name to the petition here•Let us know why you're supporting the campaign using the hashtag #WeMind on Twitter

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