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Improving figures, but mental health campaigners say more needs to be done or 'expect more deaths'

PUBLISHED: 13:08 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:08 30 September 2019

Jonathan Warren, chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT

Jonathan Warren, chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust

Campaigners for better mental health provisions say more needs to be done to protect the regions's most vulnerable patients from being sent hundreds of miles away for treatment.

Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk published a graph showing out of area transportation bed days at NSFT from NHS Digital from April 2016 to August 2019. Picture: Campagin to Save Mental Health Service N&SCampaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk published a graph showing out of area transportation bed days at NSFT from NHS Digital from April 2016 to August 2019. Picture: Campagin to Save Mental Health Service N&S

It comes following a meeting of the board of directors for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), in which bosses of the trust praised improvements to the number of so-called out-of-area placements..

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk has branded the statistics "partial and misleading".

Back in April, out of area placements reached its peak when 90 patients were placed outside of their home county.

That figure has now reduced to 23, correct as of September 6, but is still higher than figures reported during NSFT's third inadequate rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) back in January 2019.

Stuart Richardson Chief Operating Officer at Norwich and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Photo:NSFTStuart Richardson Chief Operating Officer at Norwich and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Photo:NSFT

It was also reported that the number of people waiting for assessments over 28 days has increased by more than a third (33.52pc).

In less than a year, the figure rose from 1,098 in October 2018 to 1,466 by the end of August 2019.

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Campaigners are urging top chiefs at the region's mental health trust to take action, claiming "more people will die" if further improvements are not enforced straight away.

A spokesman for the group said: "Since the last CQC inspection, transportation of people in distress rose dramatically to record levels.

"We don't understand why this was allowed to happen. But we do know what caused it - managerial incompetence."

In more positive news, latest figures show the number of people waiting for treatment over 18 weeks has reduced from 421 to 64 in the same time period, but it is not enough claimed the spokesman.

Following his report to the board, chief operating officer Stuart Richardson agreed there was "a long way to go and a lot of work to do".

He added: "What we've been saying all along is even one person who is miles away from their family is inappropriate.

"This has been a rocky time but we are making good progress and we are committed to making things better but we appreciate people are angry.

"What we are striving towards is creating a system which is strong enough to help people in distress."

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