Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust announces redesign of adult community teams in central Norfolk

Hellesdon Hospital, the headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the No

Hellesdon Hospital, the headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the Norfolk Recovery Partnership together with two other organisations. - Credit: Archant � 2012

Mental health patients will be given better access to the right service when seeing their GP, under new plans launched by health chiefs.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which has been under the spotlight this week for its rising number of unexpected deaths, is redesigning its adult community service.

It means GPs in south and north Norfolk, and Norwich, will work closer with locally-based mental health professionals.

This will enable mental health patients to be assessed faster and - if needed - referred quicker for treatment.

MORE: Number of mental health patients in Norfolk and Suffolk waiting longer than national standard rises by nearly 200pc

Debbie White, director of operations for NSFT, said: 'The community mental health teams will also have the ability to offer appointments in many GP practices rather than expect patients to travel to outpatient clinics further afield, so they can be treated closer to home and in more familiar surroundings.

'In this way our staff can really work hand in hand with the GPs and practice staff to provide the holistic services people need for both their physical and mental health needs.'

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The new community service will have three localities: City, North Norfolk, and South Norfolk.

There will be seven teams, instead of the existing four, working across the localities.

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Three will be in the city, and two each in the other two regions.

The Henderson Unit, situated at the Julian Hospital, Norwich, is set to reopen for mental health sta

The Henderson Unit, situated at the Julian Hospital, Norwich, is set to reopen for mental health staff. Photo : Steve Adams; Copyright Archant Norfolk - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

Teams comprise assistant practitioners, occupational therapists, and mental health nurses, who will have access to psychologists and consultants psychiatrists.

Three new nurse specialists have also been recruited.

Ms White added: 'It is also important to be able to offer even more support in GP practices where people are most likely to attend for the first time with mental health problems.

'This is a really important step forward in continuing to improve our community services and increasing access for local people to the mental health support they might need.'

'Our GP colleagues told us this is what they need for their patients and we have done all we can to introduce this.'

New use for Henderson Unit

The three city teams in Norwich will operate from the Henderson Unit, under NSFT's plans.

The unit, at Julian Hospital off Bowthorpe Road, used to take patients who were fit for discharge from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital but not yet ready to move home.

It was controversially closed in October last year after neither the hospital nor clinical commissioning groups chose to fund it.

The unit is owned by NSFT.

Currently the teams operate from Hellesdon Hospital, but NSFT have been searching for other premises from which the teams can work.

The Henderson Unit will also comprise a treatment room which will enable staff to better support and monitor the physical health needs of their patients.

NSFT hopes to get the unit up and running by this autumn.

It has submitted plans to Norwich City Council to demolish Town Close Clinic, which is also at the hospital, to create parking spaces for the community team's staff.

NSFT's elderly and dementia and eating disorder services are currently provided at the clinic, but these will be moved.

The elderly and dementia services will be provided from Blickling Ward, on the site, and the eating disorder service will provide some services from the Gatehouse, also on the site, but be based at Mary Chapman House, Hotblack Road, Norwich.

The community teams working in north and south Norfolk will be based at Hellesdon Hospital and Gateway House, in Wymondham, respectively.

The trust's Wellbeing service provides support to GP practices for patients with less complex mental health needs in the rest of Norfolk and Suffolk.

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