Norfolk and Suffolk mental health bosses quizzed over job and bed cuts

Councillors have questioned the leaders of Norfolk and Suffolk's mental health trust on how they plan to make improvements to services while cutting hundreds of jobs and inpatient beds.

The issue of the closure of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's day services for elderly people was also raised at the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting today.

The mental health trust is proposing to shed 502 front-line jobs over the next four years through a 'radical redesign' which it says is being led by clinicians. Beds are also proposed to be reduced, from 225 to 172 in Norfolk and Waveney and from 150 to 117 in Suffolk.

The trust is hopeful it will not have to make any compulsory redundancies and says inpatient beds will only be axed when there is evidence they are no longer needed.

However committee member Tony Wright, Norfolk County Councillor for Marshland North, said: 'I still can't see how you are going to save services with so many fewer staff and fewer beds. I can't see it's going to happen.'

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Dr Neil Ashford, who is leading on the redesign of dementia services, said: 'It's about stopping doing things that use a lot of resources but for which there is very little evidence that it makes a difference and doing more of the things that don't so much resources and make a big difference.'

One area where the trust hopes to do this is by axing its day hospital services for elderly people, which it says are used by relatively few people and have a very high cost.

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Dr Ashford said: 'We are looking at other ways to provide services to more people in a less expensive way.'

For more on this story, see tomorrow's paper.

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