BBC News: Norfolk and Suffolk mental health beds closures ‘shocking’

The BBC reports:

Thirty-six mental health beds are being closed by Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, eight of them permanently.

Further details have emerged after it was revealed a mental health ward in Ipswich would be temporarily shut.

The trust said the closures “were in the best interests of patients”.

But the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk called the closures “shocking” in the light of inspection reports.

A campaign spokesman said: “There have been two Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections – both of which said there aren’t enough beds or staff.

“It appears the solution is to close more beds.”

The trust, which has 400 beds in total, is currently in special measures for the second time.

In its latest report last October, the CQC criticised the trust for sending patients elsewhere due to a lack of beds.

The closure of Lark ward in Ipswich on 6 April will mean there are no intensive psychiatric intensive care beds in Suffolk.


The beds being closed are:

  • Ipswich – 13
  • Carlton Colville – nine
  • Gorleston – six
  • Hellesdon – six (permanent)
  • Great Yarmouth – two (permanent)

Utterly shameful.

What a great job NHS Improvement and its Improvement Director, Philippa Slinger, are doing.

How is this improvement? The Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, Ian Dalton, should hang his head in shame.

An entire English county without psychiatric intensive care beds.

A trust which is was rated unsafe by the CQC in part because it does not have enough beds closes more beds because of ‘safety’.

In the appalling case of Neil Jewell, no PICU bed was available in Norfolk and he was eventually transported on his last journey, a journey too far, to the Ipswich PICU which has now been closed:

1.4 In January 2014 Neil presented himself at the Clozapine Clinic to tell them that he had run out of medication over the Christmas holiday period and so had not taken his medication for four days. The following day Neil was admitted to a care home as a voluntary patient to build up his tolerance to Clozapine whilst under observation.

The care home, Hamilton House, was subsequently rated inadequate by a CQC inspection. Neil was sent to Hamilton House because there was no NHS bed for him.

1.5 During his stay at the care home Neil’s condition deteriorated and his disturbed, agitated behavior became a risk for himself and those around him. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act Section 2 and arrangements were made to admit him to Wedgewood House (West Suffolk) as there were no beds available in Norfolk (his place of residence).

1.6 Neil was transported by ambulance escorted by two police officers. He was handcuffed and restrained with straps to a stretcher on which he was lying prone.

1.7 Although an open ward had originally been planned for Neil this was changed to a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) bed when his condition deteriorated. A PICU bed was not immediately available and so Neil was held first on a 136 suite and then in seclusion (a locked bedroom, with observation checks every 15 minutes).

1.8 Neil was transferred in a secure private ambulance to Ipswich PICU later that evening. Neil was observed throughout the day but concern was raised when he was found to have stopped moving. Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was carried out and emergency services called.

1.9 Neil was transferred to Ipswich General Hospital where he died, five days later, on the 17th January when his life support machine was turned off.

How long will the next Neil Jewell wait for a bed after these closures? How far will the next Neil Jewell have to travel? The Ipswich PICU to which Neil was sent is now closed along with many other beds.

NHS Improvement, NHS England, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and the CCG commissioners have had more than four years to stop the beds crisis. The CCG commissioners promised to put matters right by the end of April 2014 but instead they just made the beds crisis worse: they’ve cut the share of Norfolk’s NHS budget received by NSFT by 8.3 per cent as referrals have risen by 48 per cent. Instead of enough beds, the people of Norfolk and Suffolk are being offered fewer beds and the ‘White Elephant’ cuts café.

Now, NHS Improvement and the NSFT Chair, Gary Page, have imposed the commissioner hatchet man in chief, Antek Lejk, as the new Chief Executive of NSFT, even though service users and carers decisively rejected him as unappointable. Antek Lejk failed to fund mental health adequately and allowed people to be sent to a private hospital even though it was rated Inadequate by the CQC .

Absolutely disgraceful.

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2 thoughts on “BBC News: Norfolk and Suffolk mental health beds closures ‘shocking’”

  1. How can reducing the number of beds available at NSFT be ‘in the interest of patients’? How can reducing places of safety be in the interest of people who are vulnerable due to severe mental illness? Why were the non-executive directors of NSFT silent at the meeting in public when bed closures were announced. The ‘new’ board at NSFT with the guidance of Phillipa Slinger of NHS Improvement do not appear to be improving services. Clinical staff in the community whose caseloads are already unmanageable will be under pressure and expensive out of area beds will put further strain on NSFT’s budget. ‘Temporary’ closures is an amorphous term and will not satisfy service users in crisis. Closing 36 beds however temporary will have a dangerous effect on the lives of service users. Be warned NSFT. Service users and their carers have long memories.

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