Norfolk and Suffolk mental health bed cuts criticised

Hellesdon Hospital Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was formed from the merger of two mental health bodies

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A campaign group has criticised plans to cut 20 Norfolk and Suffolk mental health beds and a suite to assess people who may need to be detained.

The local clinical commissioning group (CCG) plans are being scrutinised by Norfolk county councillors.

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Suffolk and Norfolk said the beds and the suite in Carlton Court in Lowestoft were vital to keep.

The CCG said more care would be provided in the community.

The CCG added that the loss of the suite meant more staff would be available for the remaining one.

Mental health image Some patients have had to be sent up to 200 miles for a mental health bed

A report to the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, meeting on Thursday, said the cuts were being looked at as part of the Trust's need to save 20% over four years.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was criticised recently when it was revealed some patients have had to be sent up to 200 miles (320km) for a bed in a mental health unit because of a lack of beds in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The report said as well as reducing the number of mental health beds, the CCG was also planning to cut 12 dementia assessment beds and a Section 136 suite - used to assess whether patients need to be sectioned.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Suffolk and Norfolk said: "The campaign is very concerned about the loss of the 136 suite which provides a vital place of safety for people who are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

"With regards to the reduction in mental health beds, everybody except the CCGs acknowledge there are not enough beds in Norfolk and Suffolk. All too often health professionals are finding there are no beds available."

Trust chairman Gary Page said the organisation hoped to work with campaign groups and patient groups to improve services.

He said the trust was also undertaking "an analysis at the moment is to see if the number of beds is right".

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