Norfolk mental health patient sent to out-of-area bed for second time

Hellesdon - Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon - Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

The parents of a Norwich mental health patient have told of their disappointment after their daughter was sent out of the county for the second time as there were no beds available in Norfolk.

The mental health trust says it has drastically reduced the number of patients being placed out-of-area, from a peak of 49 last autumn to just five on Tuesday this week.

The woman's parents, from Norwich, pushed for their daughter, whom we have not named, to be found a bed at Hellesdon Hospital before Christmas, as she was transferred in November to a bed in Darlington, 225 miles from her home.

She was brought back in time for Christmas, but at the time 21 other vulnerable patients were facing the festive season away from their families and home county.

Her parents said she was finally discharged last Friday and was due to spend two weeks in a supported residential unit in a bid to help her make the transition back to her own flat.

But it quickly became clear she was not ready to be discharged from an acute hospital and she had to be readmitted.

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Her mother said: 'Even though it was only a couple of days, when she was readmitted her bed had gone and she was sent out-of-area again.

'She's now in a private hospital in Chelmsford.'

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Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) cut its number of beds and staff as part of a 'radical redesign' in 2012.

But that left it short of places and led to £600,000 being spent on out-of-area beds in just one month in 2014.

Chief executive Michael Scott, who took over at the trust last year, has been trying to reduce this and has reopened a previously shut ward at Hellesdon, which has 12 beds.

He said this week: 'Last year we were facing a serious issue with the number of acute patients we had to place outside of Norfolk and when I came to the trust I made a personal commitment to get that number down.

'I fully understand the distress out-of-area placements can cause service-users and their families, particularly at a time when they are at their most vulnerable, and our trust is working hard to put this right.

'The work is already paying off as we have achieved a steady reduction from a peak of 49 out-of-area placements in the autumn down to five as of today.

'However, we are not complacent and we continue to look at ways to avoid, wherever possible, any out-of-area placements.'

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