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Campaign’s response to the consultation launched on NSFT’s astonishing proposal to cut another 25 beds in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

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Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) proposes to reduce by a further seventeen the number of beds for older people with dementia or psychiatric conditions and another eight acute adult psychiatric beds will also go – a net loss of twenty five beds. This is an unforgivable proposal when there is already a bed crisis. While we agree that treatment at home is best, if at all possible, there are not enough beds today, community teams have been slashed to the point that some referrals are not being dealt with and demand is growing. Is NSFT really proposing that elderly patients in crisis will be sent to the other side of the country, to Somerset or Stockport, in private ambulances, hundreds of miles away from their families? We already know of one husband who has run up transport bills of £3,000 visiting his wife in Norwich when beds closed in King’s Lynn. Now, families in Great Yarmouth and Waveney will face the same costs and problems. This is the opposite of ‘care.’ Why does the public need local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) bureaucracies but not local beds?

The proposed cut to the budget for adult acute services in Great Yarmouth & Waveney is £3.7 million per year – which is reduction of 21.4 per cent at a time of rising demand. £2.2 million of this ‘saving’ is being diverted to the Youth Service while the remaining £1.5 million disappears from front-line services altogether, in part to cover the cost of financial mismanagement and increasing bureaucracy. The proposed cuts to Dementia and complex care in old age services are another £280,000 per year. In total, more than £1.75 million is being cut from mental health budgets in Great Yarmouth & Waveney at a time of increasing demand. The promised ‘dementia café’ and ‘Information and Resource Centre’ are not even funded – NSFT is hoping the voluntary sector will win some as yet unspecified funding and provide them. Volunteer-run cafés and information centres are often used to make changes appear more palatable – a similar ‘cuts café’ at the Julian Hospital is now closed.

When publicly-funded bodies consult the public, they have a duty to be frank and honest. Sadly, this isn’t the case here and there seems to be precious little distance between commissioner and provider. Until the EDP and this campaign exposed the truth, NSFT and the CCGs claimed the ‘radical redesign’ was not about cuts but improvements. Now, people with mental health problems are being sent across the country, left for prolonged periods in their own homes or police custody awaiting beds, with some referrals unanswered and care delayed or even denied. These are not improvements. Norfolk County Council has had enough of the NSFT Board and so have service users, carers and NSFT staff across Norfolk and Suffolk. Revisit our 12 days of Christmas cuts campaign to discover the reality of the ‘radical redesign.’ You can read about what it is like to work for NSFT here.

How do peer support workers, a recovery college and a couple of ‘dementia cafés’ replace hospital beds, skilled doctors, nurses, social workers and care coordinators? NSFT’s track record of ‘enhanced community teams’ thus far is ‘massively cut community teams.’ What use is ‘information, advice and support’ without services? Frankly, we can’t trust a word the NSFT Board says. Until NSFT proves that it has surplus capacity with properly resourced community teams which are succeeding in keeping people out of hospital, these proposals cannot be allowed to go ahead. We challenge NSFT to publish the bed occupancy rates at both Carlton Court and Northgate House and the number of patients who have have been admitted to beds outside of Yarmouth and Waveney over the past two years. Do these proposals take into account increasing demand and the aging population? Without these facts, the public cannot properly judge the proposals.

On the 25th November 2013, less than ten weeks ago, Gary Page, NSFT Chair, and Andrew Hopkins, Acting Chief Executive, issued a widely circulated letter attacking this campaign’s public letter in which we said that NSFT ‘is closing or reducing in-patient units, with Meadowlands secure unit the next to close and either Northgate or Carlton Court acute units next in line.’ Page and Hopkins wrote: ‘Carlton Court and Northgate Hospital will not be closed.’ That was not true, as the Operation Director’s report to the NSFT Board meeting in December 2013 and this consultation makes clear. Our response to the NSFT letter is available here. This isn’t just a Great Yarmouth and Waveney issue either – 27.7 per cent of the users of Great Yarmouth & Waveney beds came from the rest of Norfolk & Suffolk. Where will these service users go if these proposed bed cuts are implemented? NSFT is already sending people in crisis all over the country, frequently to expensive private hospitals.

Bob Blizzard, prospective Parliamentary candidate for Waveney, said in the EDP:

“Making these cuts at Carlton Court is vandalism. It is a brand new state of the art facility that is no more than six years old. It is an appalling waste of resources and if they want the public to help improve services, the best thing they can do is rip up the plans.”

Bob Blizzard is absolutely right. What do local MPs, Peter Aldous and Brandon Lewis, think about these proposals and the worsening mental healthcare crisis? Thus far, their silence is deafening. Do they not take seriously their responsibility to represent some of their most vulnerable constituents?

The consultation document can be downloaded here.

The consultation survey can be completed online here. Will the CCG take any notice? We can but try and hope.

If you must read what the Norfolk director of operations at NSFT has to say or to would like to read the rest of the EDP article, click the image. Comments are open below. Let us know what you think.

EDP Consultation launched on mental health bed cuts in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

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5 thoughts on “Campaign’s response to the consultation launched on NSFT’s astonishing proposal to cut another 25 beds in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

  1. Timmy's Mum says:

    Staff are working in intolerable conditions.  There are numerous incidences among staff that I witnessed when an employee –  of stress, depression, anxiety and physical illness exacerbated (if not brought on) by the stress of huge mixed caseloads and complex cases.  When staff have to cover ‘duty’, stress levels are raised even higher as they know that they are bound to be dealing with clients who are very unwell and that there is no-one with the space on their caseload to take them on and to do follow up appointments. Sickness levels are very high, even among these staff, who care very much about clients and who are committed to providing a quality service.  The ‘inescapable stress’ of not being able to provide an ‘ok service’ let alone a quality service has led to mental health problems (and associated physical problems) in staff.
    I fear for the safety and health of my ex-colleagues as well as clients.

    Reply
  2. Timmy's Mum says:

    The link to the consultation document doesn’t work…

    Reply
  3. Confused RMN says:

    I’m confused! Sandringham Ward at The Julian (in Norwich) already covers from coast to kings Lynn as the Complexity in Later Life (cll) ward. There appeared to have been no consultation with Suffolk Social Services when the last ward at Carlton Court closed and as such all patients transferred or admitted since had no social worker as Suffolk SS refused to accept referrals from Sandringham Ward. Sandringham Ward itself is staffed for 10 beds but open with 22. The “plan” is to reduce to 10 beds some time this year. So where are patients going to go exactly?

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  4. David Walter says:

    I have bipolar disorder but often think I must suffer from paranoia. I keep having the bizarre and terrifying thought that the Trust (and the government) are hoping that reducing the support given to patients will lead to an increase in suicides thus reducing the demand for that support. Will probably sound like a joke to some, but staff and service users know how unfunny it all is. I am so lucky that I am largely able to fend for myself and manage my own condition, but I have been hospitalised twice in the past two years. Great admiration for, and thanks to, the staff who cared for me then. Saw first hand the pressure you are under.

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  5. David Walter says:

    Forgot to mention that I live in Fakenham in North Norfolk and when I was suicidal and needing to be admitted to hospital two years ago, the only available bed was in Great Yarmouth (Kings Lynn last year). Ideally there should be somewhere nearer than that so that I would face less disruption and friends and family could visit me more easily but I thank God that there was a bed available to me somewhere. Will there be one next time? I now live on my own. If I become suicidal again, will it be left to community care to support me?  How will they do that. They don’t have the staff levels to be able to visit daily, much less put someone alongside me 24/7 until I am safe again. Under the “care” of this Trust and the government (big lol though extremely unfunny) we no longer have crisis teams. We have teams in crisis.

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