Report calls for service improvements for young mental health patients in Norfolk

Calls have been made to improve inpatient services for young mental health patients in Norfolk following an independent review.

An eight bed unit for young people was opened in Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) in October 2012 to help improve services.

However, there are still not enough mental health beds for young people on a local and national level, according to a new report commissioned by Healthwatch Norfolk.

Experts from the University of East Anglia interviewed patients, commissioners, and mental health workers for the review.

They concluded that patients felt that there was a lack of information provided to them about the unit in Oulton Broad and some said they felt 'socially isolated' after being admitted. The report added that it was increasingly common to have to wait a week or more for an emergency admission.

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The report made eight recommendations calling for the trust to update its website to provide easy to access information on the facility, more specialist training for staff, developing new ways for patients to be able to keep in touch with family and friends, and more consultation on ways to improve the decor of the inpatient unit.

Rob Mack, deputy service manager for youth services at NSFT, said a number of improvements were being put in place at the Oulton Broad unit and it was down to NHS England to fund more inpatient beds and speed up the referral process.

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'The unit has been open for 18 months and it is fantastic to have the beds. We have been increasing staffing numbers so in the next couple of months we can increase beds to full capacity,' he said.

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