New chief’s pledge to open new mental health beds in Norwich
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A new mental health chief executive pledged to increase the number of beds in Norwich in a bid to stop patients being sent outside of Norfolk and Suffolk for treatment.
Michael Scott, CEO of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), yesterday told councillors that his organisation was looking to stop the 'unacceptable' scenario of patients being sent up to 200 miles away for a non-specialist inpatient bed.
The chief executive, who took control of the mental health trust three months ago, said the number of placements outside of Norfolk and Suffolk had been reduced from around 30 when he joined the NHS trust to seven.
Mr Scott said there had been no changes to bed numbers in the central Norfolk area, which covers Norwich, North Norfolk and South Norfolk. However, he told members of Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that there was still 'considerable' pressure on inpatient beds. He added that the trust was talking with commissioners over plans to open ten new assessment beds at Hellesdon Hospital.
'We are still under pressure and we are talking to colleagues about opening new beds in Norwich. It will be a small number, but it will help ease pressure. If we were to open beds in Norwich that would help considerably because there are people from Norwich in Great Yarmouth and Waveney,' he said.
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More than 100 NSFT patients in Norfolk and Suffolk were sent out of area in the 2013/14, with some being sent as far as Darlington, Harrogate, Bristol and Brighton.
Mr Scott added that Clinical Commissioning Group HealthEast would be making a decision on proposals to cut the number of adult acute beds in Great Yarmouth and Waveney from 28 to 20 at the end of the month.
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Michael Carttiss, chairman of the scrutiny committee, added 'It is ridiculous that someone from Norfolk with a mental health problem is sent to Darlington. It is a long, long way away.'
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