England

Norfolk mental health support 'lifeline' loses funding

Norman Lamb MP and one Mind's workers
Image caption The support line was launched by the then health minister, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb

A mental health crisis line in Norfolk, which has taken thousands of calls, is set to close after losing its funding.

The support line, run by staff from charity Mind, received more than 6,000 calls in its first six months.

Its funding is to end this month after the local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) decided not to fund it.

The CCGs said they were unable to commit sufficient new funds. Mind said the service was a lifeline for patients.

The pilot project was launched by former health minister, North Norfolk Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, in January this year.

Image caption The service was for people under the care of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Its aim was to provide support for patients over 18 under the care of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) or those who have been seen by the trust's services within the last 12 months.

Amanda Hedley, chief executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, said that between January and May the service had been a lifeline and had been able to answer 6,111 calls.

She said she was "very shocked and extremely disappointed" by the decision.

Kevin James, service user governor for the NSFT in Norfolk, said: "The support line has met the needs of service users where other services have failed and I personally feel beyond concerned for the welfare of those who have a genuine need for the service."

A spokesman for the CCGs for North Norfolk, South Norfolk and Norwich said: "The helpline was funded through one-off, non-recurrent national 'mental health resilience' money.

Image caption Amanda Hedley, chief executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, said she was shocked and disappointed by the decision

"This was made available across the country to fund short-term schemes that ease pressures on the NHS over winter and the following months."

Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG said it had been working with social enterprise firm IC24 to develop a mental health pathway that works in partnership with the NSFT team to ensure the needs of mental health service users were met out of hours.

A spokeswoman for West Norfolk CCG said: "We have made the decision to not continue funding the central Mind helpline and are instead proposing a new better integrated and more locally-focused model for crisis response for West Norfolk patients."

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