Mental health trust accused of ‘misleading’ consultation on bed cuts in Waveney

A protest rally is being held to protest at bed cuts at Carlton Court hospital.It is being held to c

A protest rally is being held to protest at bed cuts at Carlton Court hospital.It is being held to coincide with a public meeting at the United Reformed Church in Lowestoft Town Centre.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A mental health trust has been accused of misleading the public after it emerged that two inpatient wards had been mothballed before the end of a consultation exercise.

One of the closed wards at Carlton Court.

One of the closed wards at Carlton Court. - Credit: Archant

A 12-week public consultation was launched last month to get people's views on Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's (NSFT) plans to reduce bed numbers in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

However, it has emerged that two wards at Carlton Court, near Lowestoft, are already empty after mental health staff lost their jobs or were moved to new community-based dementia support teams.

The mental health consultation, which is being run by HealthEast - the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for the area - is looking to reduce the number of adult acute beds at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth and Carlton Court from 28 to 20 and relocate onto one site.

People are also being asked their views on whether to close 12 dementia assessment beds at Larkspur Ward in Carlton Court and 12 older people's beds for people with conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia at Laurel Ward, which is also at the Carlton Colville facility.

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However, officials from NSFT have insisted that no decision has been made to permanently close Larkspur and Laurel wards, despite them not being used.

An open letter from Norwich nurses caring for elderly people from Great Yarmouth and Waveney said the proposal was 'misleading in the extreme' and said there were not enough specialist beds at the Julian Hospital in Norwich for patients from the east.

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The public consultation on the mental health plans runs until April 24.

Bob Blizzard, prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, said the public should have been consulted earlier on NSFT's plans. However, he urged people to make their voices heard.

'This part of the consultation is a bit of a sham. However, we have worked very hard and campaigned over a year to get a public consultation. The commissioners have the power to decide what they want and we want to seize this as an opportunity. Whilst there is hope, we need to fight for it,' he said.

Kathy Chapman, director of operations (Norfolk) for NSFT, said the organisation was changing its model of care to provide more dementia support in the community with dementia intensive support teams working at the James Paget University Hospital to help patients. The trust is also running a pilot of up to six beds for older people in nursing homes in either Great Yarmouth or Waveney for patients with dementia.

'Savings from not staffing these wards at present are being used towards the cost of piloting a Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) in Great Yarmouth and Waveney. The proposed new community Dementia Intensive Support Teams provide dementia treatment at home to significantly more people along with new out-of-hours provision, none of which were available previously.'

'In the past, a hospital admission had been used to manage these patients, but this is not always the best way to care for these patients. However, no decision to permanently close Larkspur and Laurel will be made until the public consultation is complete. '

For more information on the consultation, visit

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