Integrating mental health helplines will cost some money, health chief confirms

Mental Health. Pictured: An office worker goes onto an online search engine for advice on depression

Mental Health. Pictured: An office worker goes onto an online search engine for advice on depression. Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online - Credit: Time to change/Newscast Online

Merging two mental health helplines will cost health bosses a little bit of money, a senior manager has confirmed.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Helpline is set to close on March 31, but following last-ditch talks it was decided to make affected patients eligble for the Wellbeing Helpline, provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Concrete details on how the service will work remain to be announced but a verbal update was given today.

Speaking at a meeting of South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), chief executive Antek Lejk confirmed the change would come at a cost to Norfolk's CCGs.

But Mr Lejk said it was too soon to announce any detail on how much money it would cost the CCGs.

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The CCGs had previously said there was no available money to fund the £120,000-a-year Mind Helpline.

'The changes are being actively implemented,' Mr Lejk said.

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'We will have to put a little bit of extra money in to keep this going.'

Bosses are also looking at the historical and current usage of the Mind Helpline, which will help determine which hours the Wellbeing Service Helpline should be open.

'I think we have a solution which makes better use of existing resources, it doesn't cost more than we can afford, and it will provide a service for people,' Mr Lejk said.

Funding for the helpline was originally secured by Norfolk's CCGs and the service opened in January 2015.

It caters for patients of NSFT, and people discharged from the trust no later than 12 months.

NSFT funded the helpline from the summer of 2015, when the initial CCG funding was not extended.

Last month NSFT announced they could no longer afford to fund the helpline, which prompted this newspaper's We Mind campaign, which fought for a solution for service-users.

The deal to merge the two helplines was struck last week.

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