Campaigners ask where mental health nurses will come from under new GP surgery plan
PUBLISHED: 12:03 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:03 16 March 2019
Concerns have been raised over where mental health nurses to be placed in doctors’ surgeries are going to come from amid a shortage in the profession.
A £500,000 review into Norfolk and Waveney’s health system identified that 127 mental health staff would be needed to work in GP surgeries and take the strain off doctors.
But campaigners raised worries that this would take staff from the inadequate Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), which has 118 staff in the same pay grade, and 200 nursing vacancies.
While health bosses said this was not the case and staff would “co-locate”.
A Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk spokesman said: “One of the founding demands of our campaign was the restoration of link workers, predominantly nurses, in GPs surgeries. So we should be pleased.
“But we have always been clear that any restoration of link workers should be in addition to, not instead of, current secondary mental health services, as was the case before the disastrous radical redesign. Anybody with knowledge of secondary care mental health services knows that mental health nurses are almost impossible to recruit but are a key component.”
However Julie Cave, the interim chief operating officer of the county’s sustainability and transformation partnership, said: “We are pleased to confirm there is no intention whatsoever for staff to leave NSFT and work in primary care to the detriment to the trust or the care it provides. We want to develop services to be co-located with community and GP practice staff in local areas, all working together to support patients and service users in a holistic and joined up way.”
Mrs Cave said there were a number of schemes to try and fix the recruitment gap, but did not make clear how the STP specifically planned to fill the 127 roles in doctors’ surgeries. She said: “This emphasis on integrated working in local communities is what service users and members of the public asked for in our recent adult mental health strategy.”
But the campaign spokesman said: “The impact on the quality and continuity of secondary mental health care would be devastating. All to reduce the mental health work of GPs to enable a larger proportion of their time treating physical health.”