David Bale of the Eastern Daily Press reports:
Protestors gathered on Cromer pier today and carried placards and banners to highlight the number of people affected by mental health issues.
Even in the appalling weather, about eighty people attended the protest.
The protest follows a number of suicides by young people in north Norfolk.
Jenna Bedwell, from charity Share As One, which offers drop-in support groups for people with mental health issues in the Cromer area, organised the demonstration, called Can You See Us Now,
She said: “So many people have been left without support and are coming to charities like ours in very bad states, which is not good enough.
“Compassion and empathy are missing from services, and something is not right. It’s a broken system from start to finish. It’s time we stop fighting alone and stand together.”
The problem is as much one of management values as of competence or cash. Frankly, the management has not had the provision of high quality and prompt support on its agenda. They like going to interminable meetings with no agenda.
Terry Skyrme, who has worked for mental health services for 40 years, said the cuts in 2012 hit north Norfolk badly.
He added: “All the specialist teams were abolished and the rate of suicides has gone up, especially in Cromer in the last 16 months.
Now, the operational and clinical ‘leadership’ responsible for the destruction of specialist and community teams and three CQC failures has been promoted and given pay rises as part of the so-called ‘restructure’. There is precious little ‘new blood’.
“We are trying to get over to the CCG and new management at the mental health care trust that services need to improve.
There has been an internal coup against the new Chair, Marie Gabriel and Chief Executive, Jonathan Warren. Marie Gabriel and Jonathan are good people, but the large number of new appointments are, in general, appalling. The management which destroyed mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk has grabbed the keys to NSFT before Jonathan Warren and Marie Gabriel could even get their feet under the table. Warren and Gabriel should have insisted on their own team.
We were promised a new start but what we have got are the people who incompetently implemented the cuts, the radical redesign and ignored safety warnings from front line staff, unions, service users, carers and professional bodies. Their values are wrong and their track records are terrible, with numerous failures since. That many have received pay rises and promotions, with some who had left the organisation being invited back, adds insult to injury.
“We want an emergency psychiatric clinic in Cromer, where people can walk in and be seen straightaway.
The hugely expensive vanity-project that is the cuts café in Norwich is going to be of no great benefit to the people of rural and coastal north Norfolk and has been repeatedly delayed.
“More young people are having to wait to be seen. Another big issue is the lack of psychiatric beds, and people being sent a hundred miles away.
“I am fed up with people talking about mental health, but not coming up with real funds for mental health services.”
Waiting times in the Youth service can be two years.
Aren’t we all?
Michelle Warner, from Gresham, has been under the mental heath services since she was 15 and she’s now 50.
She said: “I’ve attempted suicide before and have bipolar. We are protesting at the lack of mental heath services in north Norfolk, and the lack of beds at Hellesdon hospital for mental health patients.”
In January 2014, we were promised that the use of out of area beds would end by May 2014. More than five years later the crisis is worse than ever.
Lorna Smith, from Sheringham, added: “I have suffered from mental health problems all my life, and support over the years has got worse.”
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