Ashcroft: A vital mental health service in Norfolk is due to close as a result of insufficient funding

Julian Support logo

Julian Support has issued the following powerful press release:

“Ashcroft is a CQC registered Residential Care Service for women in the village of Wicklewood, near the market town of Wymondham in Norfolk. It was established in 1986 to support women with severe and enduring mental health needs. Julian Support has been providing the service since 2012

The women who access Ashcroft come from very difficult circumstances. Many of them have a diagnosis of Personality Disorder and self-harm or use drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their experiences. Most of the women have experienced periods of extreme crisis in their lives that have resulted in hospital admissions and they often speak of traumatic childhood experiences.

Ashcroft has been a place where they can feel safe, come to terms with some of their experiences, develop new strategies for coping and start planning to move towards independence. Some of the women use the service for respite and this is a lifeline that enables them to get a break from the pressure in their lives with staff on hand to support them.

Norfolk & Suffolk Mental Health Foundation Trust has commissioned a number of beds at Ashcroft to help the pressure on hospital beds. These beds are for women who are medically fit for discharge, but due to housing and social reasons are unable to go back home. Women are able to move on from hospital in a safe and timely way and the Ashcroft staff team are able to support them to manage the transition back into the community. This helps Norfolk & Suffolk Mental Health Foundation Trust to manage the pressure of out of county placements as it frees up beds in hospital.

We have a dedicated and skilled staff team who are passionate about the service that they deliver. They work in very challenging circumstances, conveying a huge amount of compassion and respect for the women that they support. Over the last few years the team has had to adapt to lots of changes and whilst this has been difficult, they have kept the needs of the women they support as their main priority.

The service works very closely with our statutory colleagues at Norfolk & Suffolk Mental Health Foundation Trust and within Norfolk County Council Adult Social Care departments.

Following a period of negotiation with Norfolk County Council commissioners, Julian Support was notified of the available funding to continue the contract for the service beyond April 2015. The funding was insufficient to deliver the service safely for either the staff or service users. It would have resulted in one member of staff being on site at any one time and this was simply unacceptable given the high level of need and risk taking behaviour of the people who access Ashcroft. The Julian Support Board of Trustees confirmed that they could not sanction this level of risk at a meeting on the 20th November 2014 and Commissioners were notified of the outcome the following day.

The closure of Ashcroft marks a very sad chapter in the provision of local mental health services in Norfolk and we are concerned for how vulnerable women will access the support that they so desperately need in future. The impact of the closure of Ashcroft will be felt widely and it will undoubtedly put pressure on already stretched community services. There is a real risk that this will lead to increased use of A&E departments and acute psychiatric services, which are inappropriate, financially costly and a backwards step in terms of someone’s on-going recovery. Emergency services should always be the last resort, but with the closure of Ashcroft we fear that they will become increasingly a first port of call.”

8 thoughts on “Ashcroft: A vital mental health service in Norfolk is due to close as a result of insufficient funding”

  1. How long before Norman ‘mental health champion’ Lamb declares the closure of Ashcroft to be ‘totally unacceptable’ and urges the public to sign the petition, seeking to gain political capital from his own government’s cuts and pretending to be in opposition?

    Then again, Lamb, who doesn’t live in his own parliamentary constituency, has a genuine local interest as Wicklewood is much closer to where he really lives than Aylsham, Cromer, Sheringham, Wells or North Walsham.

  2. Ashcroft does some great work, they provide a superb service for women suffering from personality disorder. Now it joins the list of services that we can no longer refer to. NSFT wonders why they have people stacked up in out of area beds, well this is a good example of why. If acute services cannot find suitable services to move people on to, they cannot be discharged from acute.

    Another sad day for mental health services in Norfolk.

  3. I have over the last year from going to the unit last Xmas facing it with this new diagnosis and being at the time medication free being so underneath inside out and a life of no sence and no self worth and being unsupported to being a place completely cared for guarded and secure . Two my second stay knowing wat I was going into to actually asking for support rather than staff aproa hing me it was a vital yearning point and skill learnt that I would not have without them. I then had huge life Ste to say goodbye to my three gorgeous boys and found myself unable to pull myself together to actually go to the visit to say my last goodbe if a unnamed worker hadn’t of been everything I needed I never would of been able to do that. I have since never self harmed again never atemoted suicide again I am coming on keeps and bounds I am going through challenges with normal emotions nothing thats big is to much for me and I love where my lifes at Ashcroft are my story and every on there has my love penny love u x

  4. I wonder how much more costly it will be to the NHS if these vulnerable women do not receive the first line help they need and end up in a secure unit?

  5. It is a sad affair that this service is likely to close. It would be good if we heard the other side of the story from Norfolk Mental Health Commissioners. Over the last several years it appears that Julian Support are not the favour of the month and have lost several Norfolk contracts. Could it be that Julian Support are not changing fast enough to meet current demands, could it be that their reserves of half million plus, see charity commission website, have something to do with it. I have learnt over the years that there are always many sides to a story, its never that simple or straightforward.

  6. If there is a problem with the service Julian Support provides, as a mental health social worker I have not been aware of it. Service-users have always given very positive feedback about Ashcroft and other services provided by Julian Support. I find it hard to see how anyone can defend the system of constantly putting services out to tender, so that private firms are encouraged to undercut current service-providers, leading to a general deterioration in the service and in terms and conditions for staff. The whole residential care system – the purchaser/provider split – relies on market forces to provide a service and leads to a very unplanned and uneven service. In the same way the Health and Social Care Bill has led to a fragmented mental health service and a complete lack of regional strategic planning, especially for inpatient services.

  7. LeanBiome is also unique in that it is caffeine-free, making it a safe and effective choice for those who are sensitive to caffeine. The product is easy to incorporate into your daily routine and can be taken with or without food. With regular use, LeanBiome can help to support healthy weight loss, reduce belly fat, and improve overall gut health.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top