EDP: Concern over mental health referral service in Norfolk

Campaigners raised their concerns after figures from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that the organisation had not hit its referral targets for the last five months of 2013.

Figures showed that 65pc of emergency referrals received an assessment in four hours, only 17pc of urgent referral cases were contacted within 72 hours and 23pc of routine referrals were contacted within the trust’s 28 day time limit during December.

Emma Corlett, Unison spokesperson and mental health nurse, said the FoI data released to the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk matched the experience that staff working in the service had described.

“There is no escaping the fact that there are simply too many people who need an assessment of their mental health needs, and not enough staff to see them. Staff in access and assessment have been working under unacceptably high pressure for months on end, often at the expense of their own health. There have been a high number of staff who have left the service, and the remaining staff are having to not just juggle an unmanageable workload but also deal with disgruntled and angry GPs and patients, unhappy at delays in getting an assessment. This week [in April] assessments are being offered to people referred in January, well short of the 28 day target.”

“It is staggering that after more than a year of service operation NSFT cannot provide data that it believes is accurate. If they cannot accurately monitor demand for the service, how can they determine how many people are needed to work in the service?” she said.

It took ten weeks for us to receive even a partial response from Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). The law says that it should reply in a maximum of four weeks. NSFT bizarrely continues to deny the accuracy of its own data.

We will publish a lot more information about the Access & Assessment service at the heart of the ‘radical redesign’ over the next few weeks. If you work in Access & Assessment, or have had trouble accessing the service, either as a service user, carer or professional, then get in touch and help us tell the truth.

Click on the image to read more on the EDP website or comment below.

EDP Concern over mental health referral service in Norfolk

5 thoughts on “EDP: Concern over mental health referral service in Norfolk”

  1. One of my neighbours has been under under 65 services and lives an South Norfolk, DISS area for many years as he suffers from an enduring mental health issue of depression. This ebbs and flows, this year he is very low in mood, he was discharged from the service becasue they felt he was not engaging well enough with the service – he is depressed and struggles to getv motivated ! within 2 weeks he was struggling even more. Crisis referal was made to the services – 2months later he was asked to attend the NNUH in Norwich, No CMHN allocated, NO medication changes, his wife feels compeltely at a loss of what to do.

    Yesterday 3 months after his GP referral he has been offered a ‘chat’ with a member of the adult team in KINGS LYNN … remember he lives in DISS.

    Not sure If I can understand the reasoning on this, or am nI missing something. So the moral of the tale is.

    1. Boot off unwell people as they dont comply, there too ill

    2. Dont accept a referal in the first place

    3. Make a new response target of 2 months.

    4. Make an appointment 3 months after a GP referal and make it at the northenmost place in the county you live in !

    5. Maybe the patient wont make the appointment to come to the hospital as they are so ill they might fail to trun up; so close referral, send GP – patient did not attend letter.Or am I still being cynical. And yes I did not make this story up, I know this man he is my neighbour. And the letter asking him to attend Kinghs Lynn does exist…

  2. Primary care mental health services – managers trying to avoid job cuts results in more pressure on already stretched staff. The ones who work with integrity are demoralised and will leave. The ones who stay are the ones prepared to massage recovery rates. Targets not care.

  3. the ones who stay are not all massaging statistics Amberilla. They have families, mortgages, debts etc and continue to work very hard to be as compassionate and effective as they can be, given the huge pressures. Don’t write off those who have few options .

  4. I believe that most of the clinicians, who try and work within the system have integrity. They are trying to do the best job possible in very difficult circumstances and I admire them for it. Leaving the service is one ( for some the only) option. I hope that those who stay can find the strength and courage to speak out when things are dangerous and wrong. Supporting them in doing so, is one element of what this Campaign is about.

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