Jon Welch of the BBC reports:
“A mental health trust planning to close beds has spent more than £1m sending patients to a private hospital linked to one of its senior consultants.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spent almost £1.2m in 2013 with Milestones at Salhouse, near Norwich.
Milestones’ medical director Dr Julian Beezhold is a consultant psychiatrist at the trust and has played a role in its bed-closure programme.”
“The trust said it spent £1,180,290 placing seven patients with Milestones during 2013.
That represents almost half its total spending of £2.6m on specialist placements during the year.”
“In a statement, a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “Dr Beezhold is the lead clinician recommending and overseeing the closure of NHS beds within the acute pathway.”
The campaign voiced concern about the possible potential of a conflict of interests with his role at Milestones, suggesting it “undermines the ‘radical redesign’ consultation, given his role at the heart of it”.
It called for a “thorough investigation” of the trust’s spending on specialist placements.
“It is imperative that all NHS staff are working exclusively and transparently for the NHS, particularly those such as Dr Beezhold with senior managerial and clinical responsibilities,” its spokesman said.
He questioned whether CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) and other bodies had known about Dr Beezhold’s involvement with Milestones when he presented evidence to them.
The doctor has appeared before councillors to defend the cuts, and in January addressed Norfolk’s health overview and scrutiny committee.”
“Jeff Keighley, of Unison, said any trust employee with contracts for private services within the trust should be forced to declare this when appearing before a scrutiny committee.
“I urge county councillors, CCGs and the trust to review this and ensure full transparency is achieved,” he said.
“If other employees of the trust are in a similar position, there needs to be explicit clarity on this issue.”
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