The NHS postcode lottery: Boost for psychosis patients in Norfolk after million pound deal - but Suffolk patients face longer waits

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL: People who have experienced psychosis are being asked to take part in a nati

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL: People who have experienced psychosis are being asked to take part in a national study which aims to improve treatment for patients. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

How fast you receive treatment after experiencing psychosis will soon depend on whether you live in Norfolk or Suffolk.

An emerging postcode lottery is set to affect mental health patients after health chiefs secured funding for improved treatment in Norfolk – but not in Suffolk.

Mental health bosses welcomed the boost for Norfolk and Waveney, but the disparity for the rest of Suffolk is 'unacceptable', according to Suffolk MP Dan Poulter.

In April 2016, a new target was introduced nationally to ensure psychosis patients received treatment within two weeks of referral.

But Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in our region, was only funded to achieve this for patients aged between 14 and 35 in the two counties.

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However, from April 1, 50pc of patients up to the age of 65 should also be treated within two weeks after NSFT received around £1.3m of funding from Norfolk and Waveney's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Agreement with Suffolk's two CCGs has not yet been reached – meaning patients aged between 35-65 in the county (excluding Waveney) could wait longer for treatment.

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Dr Poulter, pictured, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: 'It is unacceptable that there will be a two-tier service across Norfolk and Suffolk.

'It could mean people with similar mental health needs living a mile apart having different access to treatment.

'It's very poor that the commissioners are unable to match the commitment to expand this service as they have in Norfolk and Waveney.'

According to NHS England, early intervention in psychosis can 'significantly' reduce the rate of relapse, risk of suicide, and number of hospital admissions.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from Suffolk's CCGs at the time of going to print.

This newspaper understands NSFT chiefs and the CCGs will hold workshops in late February to try to reach an agreement.

Background - What is psychosis?

According to NHS England, Psychosis is characterised by hallucinations, delusions and a disturbed relationship with reality, and can cause considerable distress and disability for the person and their family or carers.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression or other less common psychotic disorder will usually be made, although it can take months or even years for a final diagnosis.

People who experience psychosis can and do recover.

The time from onset of psychosis to the provision of evidence-based treatment has a significant influence on long-term outcomes.

The sooner treatment is started the better the outcome and the lower the overall cost of care.

The target requires that more than 50pc of people experiencing first episode psychosis commence a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-recommended package of care within two weeks of referral.

Have you got a mental health story? Email

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