Muddles, delays and confusion: mental health bosses admit social care service for adults in Norfolk is not good enough

County Hall

County Hall - Credit: Archant

The social care service for adults with mental health issues in Norfolk is not good enough, bosses have admitted, as they pledge to make improvements.

Problems with an agreement between Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have meant, at one point, council bosses could not be confident the authority was fully meeting its legal obligations around care.

Muddles and delays over personal budgets, confusion over care assessments and mix-ups over accommodation are among a string of problems with the agreement, which was signed in 2008.

A report into the issues was commissioned in October last year and published in the spring, before the contract, which saw just over a hundred social care staff transfer from the county council to the health trust, was extended for a year with a plan for improvements.

But, in a report which came before county councillors on the community services overview and scrutiny panel yesterday, County Hall officers said performance remained poor.

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They said: 'The current arrangement is not providing the necessary outcomes required to ensure a modernised mental health care system is provided within Norfolk.'

Talks between the council and the trust about the way forward are ongoing.

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Harold Bodmer, the council's director of community services, said: 'The county council and the trust will work together in the future to build on our strong partnership and develop our approach so that we secure the right outcomes for service users in the future.

'Both of us agree there is a need for the model to change, both of us know what areas need to be addressed and above all both of us agree that working together will be the best way to change them.'

Kathy Chapman, director of operations at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, added: 'The trust and the council are working to improve how quickly people are allocated their personal budgets to meet their social care needs.

'We are also working with the council to help people who have mental health problems to find settled accommodation and employment.'

At yesterday's meeting, Wyndham Northam, Conservative county councillor for Mundesley division, said: 'Having read this report I was very concerned. After five years, this report does not give any encouragement that satisfactory progress has been made.'

He called for the council to take back the staff it had transferred and run the service itself.

Mr Northam said: 'I think we should call it a day and go back to square one.'

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