Sussex mental health services 'at full stretch'

The trust running mental health services in Sussex has said it is at "full stretch" as it seeks to meet increased demand and balance the books.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it had seen a 44% increase in demand for some of its services while having to save £14.1m.

Doctors said the economic downturn had contributed to a rise in people seeking mental health services.

The government said the NHS needed to use resources more efficiently.

Dr Richard Ford, the trust's executive director of strategic development, said: "It's the toughest year we have ever had."

'Vulnerable people'

He added: "When times are really difficult, it is normally the more vulnerable people who tend to suffer first."

The trust said it was making savings by cutting about 100 beds and treating more people within the community.

It was also reducing its overheads by providing services beyond Sussex to parts of Surrey and Kent.

The trust has also used a surplus from previous years to invest in mental health units in Chichester, Worthing and Hastings.

The Department of Health said NHS spending was increasing by £12.5bn, but the service needed to modernise.

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