Mental health trust told there will be no new money for specialist services yet due to NHS England deficit

Hellesdon Hospital, the headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Hellesdon Hospital, the headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: Archant © 2012

NHS chiefs have told the region's mental health trust not to expect money for new services yet because of financial pressures, a leaked letter has revealed.

The letter, sent by a member of NHS England (Midlands and East) to Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), also details plans to reduce the number of hospital beds for mental health patients with a learning disabilities and people with autism.

It comes as NHS England's Midlands and East's specialist commissioning team faces an £800,000 deficit this year - and the letter includes a warning from chiefs that a £29m funding gap has emerged, meaning savings have to be made.

The specialist commissioning team pays trusts such as NSFT to provide services such as child and adolescent mental health services, secure inpatient mental health services, and treatment for HIV, hepatitis C, obesity, and rare diseases.

In the letter, by Denise Clark, it is warned: 'The scope for new service developments will be minimal.


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'Any service developments will need to be reviewed carefully and offset by reductions in expenditure elsewhere,' it adds.

The letter says new investment can only be considered once NHS England 'has confidence' in the delivery of the required savings.

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Commenting on the letter, an NHS England spokesman said the body is on target to make the savings.

Meanwhile the letter also confirms that the number of hospital beds for mental health patients with learning difficulties or autism will reduce across the east of England from April next year.

This is in line with a national shift in treatment of people with those conditions, Ms Clark writes in her letter.

The NHS England spokesman said appropriate services tailored for patients' needs would be offered in the community.

'Many people with a learning disability or autism are clear that they would rather be supported in the community than in hospital if clinically appropriate, and if a hospital admission is required then this is should be for the shortest period of time possible,' they added.

NSFT provides six hospital beds for mental health patients with learning difficulties in Ipswich, down from 12 beds in the last two years.

It doesn't provide any beds for patients with autism.

A spokesman for NSFT said it was too soon to comment on what the funding pressures mentioned in the letter could mean for the trust. Have you got a mental health story? Contact our health correspondent by emailing nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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