Fixed, Flawed Farce: Part 2: EDP: Half of mental health beds budget for Norfolk and Suffolk spent in first month of year

Tom Bristow, Investigations Editor of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

Last year the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) went £3.5m over budget on sending patients to beds at other facilities, including private hospitals and out of the area.

Its budget for buying beds from other providers is £1m a year.

But it used almost half of that in just one month this year, spending £466,000 in April.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and commissioning bureaucrats at the CCGs claim there are enough beds.

NSFT and commissioners promised in January 2014 that out of area placements would be eliminated before the end of April 2014. But bed closures continued. The beds crisis is much worse now.

These ridiculous claims would be farcical if the consequences were not so tragic for people in crisis and their families.

The proportion of mental health beds closed at NSFT is nearly twice the national average in England.

The number of deaths has doubled.

So much for the ‘myth-busting’ emails of the NSFT Chief Executive, Michael Scott, to staff.

But it means all bed placements have to be agreed by the commissioners.

That has prompted accusations from campaigners that accountancy is influencing whether mental health patients get beds or not.

They blame bed cuts for the NSFT sending so many patients to private hospitals and away from the area.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “The money currently spent at private hospitals would be better spent on high quality NHS beds here.”

In April patients had to spend a total of 620 bed days elsewhere because the NSFT could not provide a bed – that was up 50pc on the same month last year.

The vast majority of those bed days were at the privately run Mundesley Hospital which is rated “inadequate” by watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

This newspaper has called through our Mental Health Watch campaign to treat patients in NSFT beds rather than sending them out of area.

Read the article in full on the EDP website by clicking on the image below. Even better, support high-quality investigative journalism by buying the newspaper.

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