Nicholas Carding of the EDP reports:
Bosses at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said they could not rule out closing the Fermoy Unit in King’s Lynn, because of problems with its design and safety.
The unit is the only inpatient facility for mental-health patients in west Norfolk.
Last month research by this newspaper showed some patients from the region have been sent to Altrincham and Bristol for treatment due to a lack of available beds locally.
Now North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said it would be “completely unacceptable” if the area was left without mental-health beds.
“In regards to the safety of the unit I would have thought there is an argument for rebuilding the unit, with patients temporarily relocated elsewhere,” he added.
“I won’t accept any decision that leaves west Norfolk without an inpatient facility for mental health patients.”
A spokesman for campaign group Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “The loss would be disastrous, not just for patients and their families, but also for the finances of the trust given that the average cost of out of area beds is £552 per patient per night.”
West Norfolk CCG and its antecedents have been the worst commissioners historically, in some years spending less than eighty per cent of the national average (and the rest of Norfolk) on mental health. Perhaps if they had invested properly in mental health services, the current problems at the Fermoy Unit could have been avoided?
If Henry Bellingham wants safe and local mental health provision, he needs to convince West Norfolk CCG to make parity of esteem a reality and invest.
We’ve written before about the human cost of closing local mental health beds in West Norfolk. The first redundancies of the ‘radical redesign’ took place in West Norfolk which now has a critical and long-standing recruitment crisis. Service user David Walter has written eloquently about his experience of witnessing staff distress whilst an inpatient in King’s Lynn. Despite the beds being unused for years and the staff having been made redundant, the King’s Lynn beds for older people have not been closed: they are ’empty at the moment.’ Why? To avoid a public consultation, of course.
Click on the image below to read the full story on the EDP website: