Great Yarmouth and Waveney mental health bed cuts claims

Image caption Norfolk and Suffolk's NHS mental health services merged in 2012

Concerns are being raised about cuts to the number of mental health beds in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Bob Blizzard, ex Labour MP for Waveney, said staff had told him NHS managers were looking at acute provision in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

He said beds could be reduced from 42 to 20.

The NHS trust which runs the services said they were under review, but beds would not be closed until they were no longer needed.

Acute beds for mental health patients are provided at Northgate, Great Yarmouth and Carlton Court, Lowestoft, by the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Blizzard, who is Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, said staff had told him that management had talked about the plans to reduce beds in meetings with them.

'£500 a day'

He said: "There's clearly no case for having these bed cuts - the information they're giving me is how full these inpatient wards are.

"Patients have already been sent [to acute beds] as far afield as Basildon, Cambridge and Hackney and they're putting patients in private beds at the astronomical cost of £500 a day.

"They say they want more care in the community, but they've already cut the community teams from two to one in Waveney with half the number of staff."

The Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: "It's right to say that our current situation would not support a bed reduction.

"However, if we reach people at an earlier stage of their illness, develop a robust personality disorder strategy, reduce multiple assessments and speed up social care support then we would be able to provide people with some real alternatives to hospital admission.

"We won't close any beds until we can show we no longer need them and we also know that all our patients would prefer to be cared for at home."

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