Last mental health inpatient unit in West Norfolk under threat prompting fears over bed provision

fermoy

fermoy - Credit: Archant

Fresh fears have been raised over mental-health beds in the region after it emerged the future of a 20-bed facility is under threat.

Bosses at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said they could not rule out closing the Fermoy Unit in King's Lynn, because of problems with its design and safety.

The unit is the only inpatient facility for mental-health patients in west Norfolk.

Last month research by this newspaper showed some patients from the region have been sent to Altrincham and Bristol for treatment due to a lack of available beds locally.

Bosses were asked at last week's NSFT board meeting if there were plans to close the Fermoy Unit within the next 12 months.


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In his reply, NSFT boss Michael Scott said he 'could not rule out closing the unit'.

Now North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said it would be 'completely unacceptable' if the area was left without mental-health beds.

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'In regards to the safety of the unit I would have thought there is an argument for rebuilding the unit, with patients temporarily relocated elsewhere,' he added.

'I won't accept any decision that leaves west Norfolk without an inpatient facility for mental health patients.'

NSFT last week announced an inquiry would be held into a rise in unexpected patient deaths at the trust.

One of those patients who died was Christopher Higgins, who killed himself while receiving treatment at the Fermoy Unit, in a case Mr Bellingham described as 'tragic'.

A spokesman for campaign group Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'The loss would be disastrous, not just for patients and their families, but also for the finances of the trust given that the average cost of out of area beds is £552 per patient per night.'

Do you have a mental-health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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