Mental health referral delay figures ‘wildly inaccurate’, says trust

Ian Gibson speaks in the crowded room at the Vauxhall Centre as the campaign to save mental health services is launched.

Ian Gibson speaks in the crowded room at the Vauxhall Centre as the campaign to save mental health services is launched. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Mental health bosses said figures that showed the NHS trust was not hitting emergency referral targets were 'wildly inaccurate', despite being the source of the information.

New figures from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) have revealed that almost half of all emergency referrals were seen by staff within four hours. And a third of urgent referrals and routine referrals were seen within 72 hours and 28 days respectively, according to figures from a new safety indicator dashboard report.

Critics said the data showed that mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk were in 'crisis'. However, officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said the half year figures for 2013/14 was a draft report and were not an accurate representation of the organisation's performance.

The report said that 52pc of emergency referrals were seen in four hours, 32pc of urgent referrals were seen in 72 hours and 33pc of routine referrals were seen in 28 days when the trust's target was 100pc.

It comes after the NHS trust launched new access and assessment teams in Norfolk and Suffolk earlier this year for new mental health referrals.

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Kathy Chapman, director of operations, said the dashboard report was under development as a tool to be used internally and shared with Clinical Commissioning Groups.

'The version does not represent the trust's performance - it has been used in some internal meetings to develop the tool and we have always been clear in these meetings that the data in these tables does not represent the trust's performance.'

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'The report should have said it was draft because the figures are not accurate. It is not the only tool we use to assess the safety of services. The dashboard is in development and we have never said it is our performance. It is out of date data and for most of those areas the performance is better. Given time, we can get the accurate information, but some of the stuff is wildly inaccurate.'

'The Access and Assessment figures are totally wrong and the vast majority of people are seen in those targets. We gets 100 referrals a day every day and that is just for Norfolk,' she said.

Bob Blizzard, prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, who was sent the safety dashboard report, said the figures also showed that the existing number of beds were fully occupied during the year to September before the completion of plans to cut bed numbers by 20pc.

'These figures are shocking and show the impact that the government's imposed budget reduction of 20pc over four years is having on patient services. They back up what staff have been telling me that there is a crisis in the local mental health service provided by the trust. To proceed with proposed cuts in adult acute beds at Carlton Court in Lowestoft or Northgate in Great Yarmouth will surely make the whole service unworkable.'

'Instead of making undeliverable promises to the public, the trust should tell the government that the cuts imposed on are unworkable. I am regularly being told of beds not being available for patients needing to be admitted,' he said.

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