Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and the three clinical commissioning groups in central Norfolk (North Norfolk CCG, South Norfolk CCG, Norwich CCG) made a big splash of their undertaking to end the inhumane, expensive, dangerous and illegal practice of having insufficient beds for people in mental health crisis in Norfolk and Suffolk, which often resulted in moving vulnerable people after great delays to beds at the other end of the country in the middle of the night. But, despite their public promises, this disgraceful situation hasn’t ended. They couldn’t run a bath.
NSFT and the CCGs said they would need four months to resolve the ‘unacceptable’ situation but, five months later, the crisis is worse. The NSFT Chair, Mr. Page, attended a recent Crisis Team meeting with Dr Julian ‘Milestones’ ‘Emergency Psychiatrist’ ‘This is very important’ Beezhold but nothing has been done to change a desperately dangerous situation, except to force out in tears an excellent member of crisis team staff doing their best in an impossible situation. Scapegoating, bullying and ignoring the fundamental problems is, of course, the NSFT way. Norman Lamb has done nothing to change the situation despite being the government minister in charge of mental health and the local MP for North Norfolk. The signing of Lamb’s cashless concordat has made no difference whatsoever.
This is the letter sent to Mark Taylor, Chief Executive of North Norfolk CCG, the lead commissioners, last week outlining the disaster in mental health care in Norfolk & Suffolk. Incredibly, since we sent the letter, the situation has become worse still, with twenty-five patients in Out-of-Area beds, with a further four patients having been admitted to places as far away as Darlington:
Mr Mark Taylor
North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group
28 May 2014
Dear Mr Taylor,
Re: Acute psychiatric beds situation
I have to inform you that, since I last wrote to you on behalf of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) in Norfolk, the bed situation has worsened.
I have been on duty all day and – as things stand – there are 21 patients in out-of-area beds, the vast majority in private Priory or Cygnet Hospitals across the country. There are seven patients from Norfolk in Suffolk beds. There are no beds available in Norfolk or Suffolk.
The demand for beds – both for voluntary and detained patients – is unrelenting. Today there were no beds available in Norfolk and Suffolk for elderly patients with functional illnesses. A bed then became available on Sandringham Ward at the Julian Hospital when a patient was discharged. We were then told that it could not be used as it was a bed designated for closure. Only after much pressure were we allowed to use it, since it was the only remaining older persons’ bed in Norfolk and Suffolk.
When I left work tonight at 9 p.m., the Bed Management Team was attempting to find beds for at least four patients. The only available beds were ‘Red Leave’ beds on Waveney Ward, Hellesdon Hospital, and one in King’s Lynn. One patient had been in the Section 136 suite since 4.30 p.m. (not detained under Section 136 but kept there for lack of a bed) and was assessed as needing a Psychiatric Intensive Care bed and needing detention under Section 3, 1983 Mental Health Act. The Bed Management Team had scoured the country and no bed was available. When I left work they were considering admitting this high-risk patient to an open acute ward, to a ‘Red Leave’ bed that belonged to an ‘at risk’ patient on leave. The AMHP, the psychiatrist and two police officers were left in the Section 136 suite waiting for a bed to become available. The patient was being detained without legal authority because the AMHP and doctor could not complete Section papers because no hospital could be identified.
At what point will you take action? This is a real crisis. Not only is there a shortage of acute psychiatric beds, but the demand for beds is increasing because of the lack of community care. The above-mentioned patient is yet another patient who used to be cared for by the specialist Assertive Outreach Team, which the Trust has abolished.
I refer you once again to the demands of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services:
- Re-open Thurne Ward at Hellesdon Hospital
- Restore the link-worker service
- Recreate the specialist Assertive Outreach Team
- Restore the experienced Band 6 staff and psychiatrist to the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team
- Re-open Larkspur and Laurel Wards at Carlton Court
- Re-open older persons beds in West Norfolk
I would like to reiterate that you are failing in your duty under Section 140, 1983 Mental Health Act to ensure that beds are available in Norfolk and Suffolk for urgent admissions. It is also exactly one month after the date of your undertaking to the Health Scrutiny Committee that there would be no patients in out-of-area hospitals.
On behalf of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk
Cc Norman Lamb, MP
Health Scrutiny Committee
Harold Bodmer, Social Services
Adam Gretton, EDP
Andy McNicol, Community Care
Emma Corlett, Unison
Phil Tregear, NSFT
Who has acknowledged this failure? Nobody.
Who has said sorry for this failure? Nobody.
Who has explained this failure? Nobody.
How much is this fiasco costing? Millions of pounds and untold misery.
Who has outlined how this situation will be resolved? Nobody.
Who has been sacked for this failure? Nobody.
What has Norman Lamb, the government minister responsible for mental health, actually done? Nothing.
What a disgrace. Nobody takes responsibility or blame. They just take their six-figure salaries and pretend nothing has gone wrong.